Sesame Street Sues Puppet Movie

We’re going to warn you that you might want to sit down. The makers of the Sesame Street brand is suing the creators of The Happytime Murders movie featuring Melissa McCarthy. That’s right—Sesame Street is suing somebody. What in the world would prompt a brand like Sesame Street to sue someone? Could it be puppet vulgarity? Nope. How about acts of violence featuring puppets? No. Puppets in sexually explicit situations? Wrong.

If you’re done guessing, we’ll help you out. It has to do with brand confusion.

While you might think that the puppets themselves would lead to the lawsuit, you’d be wrong. Sesame Workshop reportedly didn’t care all that much about the stylized puppets and their likenesses to their Intellectual Property. Instead, it was a trailer that the movie released with the tagline “No Sesame. All Street.” that prompted the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, Sesame Workshop states that the trailer, which features “profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets” in combination with the “No Sesame. All Street.” tagline, “tarnishes” the Sesame Workshop brand, whose goal is helping “kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder.”

“We take no issue with the creative freedom of the filmmakers and their right to make and promote this movie, rather this is about how our name is being misused to market a film with which we have no association,” Sesame Workshop said in a statement about the lawsuit.

In the end, it was the blatant references to the brand in the advertising that has led to audience confusion on who is releasing the movie. It’s the brand confusion that concerns Sesame Workshop.

What is the lesson brands can learn from this?

Brand infringement can take many forms. Sometimes using the likeness of a brand or elements of a brand can be classified as infringement, leading to legal discourse. Other times, it is mere association with another organization or entity. In this case, the movie is a complete departure from the morally wholesome Sesame Street brand, amplifying the potentially negative impact it can have on its brand equity.


  • SOURCE: The New York Times
  • BRANDS: Sesame Street (Sesame Workshop)
  • WHY YOU WILL LOVE IT: You may not love it, but it might teach you a valuable lesson.

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