Dirty Mouthed Puppets Sued by Sesame Street Workshop for Trademark Infringement

Updated 2 years ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
Dirty Mouthed Puppets Sued by Sesame Street Workshop for Trademark Infringement

ADVISORY: The preview is essential in explaining the lawsuit. However, the content contains scenes that parents may not prefer young children to see. Viewer discretion advised. This is a "red band" trailer.  We have placed it on a click through page, rather, than on the front page. 

Melissa McCarthy's "Happytime Murders" integrates puppets into the real world in a manner similar to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988, a.k.a. Dead Toons Don't Pay Bills) in a pre-CGI era. 

THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS is a filthy comedy set in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist. Two clashing detectives with a shared secret, one human (Melissa McCarthy) and one puppet, are forced to work together again to solve the brutal murders of the former cast of a beloved classic puppet television show. 

But Sesame Street Workshop has sued the producers contending that the "tag lines" in the new filthy movie's marketing will and has tarnished the Sesame Street brand.


Happytime does not use Muppets or Sesame Street characters , but the Workshop claims that displaying Brian Henson's credits (he's the son of Jim Henson who created the Muppets) “exploited [the Henson characters ] to market this R-rated film,” through a tag line, "No Sesame. All Street." The trailer features drug use, prostitution and graphic sex. ( The Trailer reveals what goes on when kids are not around is above; parental discretion advised). 

The Workshop asks that corrective advertising be placed so that parents do not confuse the R-rated Happytime production with Sesame Street characters.

Within the complaint are some of the misconceptions that have been received by the Workshop. 

Adam Fogelson, chairman of STX Films, made an allusion to Muppets in April at CinemaCon that  furthers the alleged confusion.

“You know in your hearts, when Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy go home at night and there are no cameras around and no children, it’s filthy,” Fogelson said in a USA Today interview.

Fred, Esq. , an attorney for STX said in a statement:

“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 statement said.

The attorney for Sesame Street clarified:

“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."

Prior to filing the federal complaint the attorneys gave STX two weeks to withdraw current advertising which they declined to do. 

The Workshop goes on to state:

"“Sesame Street,” which debuted in 1969, was created to reach as many children as possible with lessons about kindness, inclusion and life skills. It features a cast of colorful puppets known as Muppets, including popular characters such as Oscar the Grouch and Bert and Ernie. The show reaches a global audience of 190 million children."

A judge has ordered a hearing on the request for a restraining order.

You can read the full complaint below by downloading it as a PDF.

  1. Sesame Workshop v STX (1.22 MB)
  2. TRO Order (138.5 KB)
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