On Thursday, the creators of Sesame Street filed a lawsuit against STX Entertainment, alleging that marketing for The Happytime Murders tarnishes its brand.
The Happytime Murders is an upcoming, R-rated movie, starring Melissa McCarthy, and is centered around an investigation into the murders of the puppet cast of an ’80s television show. The movie was directed by Brian Henson, son of the late Jim Henson, and was partially produced by the Jim Henson Company.
As its name might suggest, The Happytime Murders is not a kid-friendly movie — which is doubly evident from its recently released trailer. However, it is the marketing tagline on the promotional material that has landed the movie in hot water with the Sesame Street creators.
The tagline that has been used across social media, and the trailer, is, “No Sesame. All Street.”
The lawsuit filed by the Sesame Street creators argues that the tagline could cause brand confusion and mislead audiences. “While the trailer at issue is almost indescribably crude, Sesame is not trying to enjoin defendants’ promotion or distribution of their movie,” the suit states. “It is only defendants’ deliberate choice to invoke and commercially misappropriate Sesame’s name and goodwill in marketing the movie — and thereby cause consumers to conclude that Sesame is somehow associated with the movie — that has infringed on and tarnished the Sesame Street mark and goodwill.”
An STX spokeswoman issued a response to the lawsuit, though it was attributed to Fred, Esq., a puppet lawyer, which stated that the movie does not infringe on any trademarks, and tells “the untold story of the active lives of Henson puppets when they’re not performing in front of children.”
The statement continued, “While we’re disappointed that Sesame Street does not share in the fun, we are confident in our legal position. We look forward to introducing adult moviegoers to our adorably unapologetic characters this summer.”
The Happytime Murders is currently scheduled for release in theaters on August 17, 2018.