Business-Minded Legal Solutions

Muppets case an example of need for intellectual property rights

“No Sesame. All Street.” That is the tagline for a new movie starring Melissa McCarthy. The plotline takes viewers into a world were humans and Muppets live side by side. Ms. McCarthy is a detective assigned to a murder case involving a villain killing of beloved Muppets.

The trailer depicts Muppets in various lude activities, ranging from mild cursing to illicit drug use and ends with the tagline noted above.

Catchy? Certainly. Infringement issue? Possibly.

The tagline clearly draws from the award-winning preschool program, Sesame Street. As such, the creators of Sesame Street filed suit against the production company responsible for the movie. Sesame Street’s creators allege the tagline appears to draw a connection between Sesame Street and this cinematic production. There is no connection, and Sesame Street wants the company to remove the tagline to avoid confusion.

To achieve this goal, the creators of Sesame Street filed suit in New York. As a first step, Sesame Street filed an injunction to force the production company to immediately stop using the tagline. The creators argued that the tagline is an infringement of Sesame Street’s intellectual property rights.  

The judge presiding over the case ultimately ruled in favor of the production company. At the moment, use of the tagline can continue.

From Muppets to reality – Lessons from the case

The case provides a valuable lesson to any business owner or inventor of the importance of properly protecting intellectual property. Proprietary protections are available that can allow the owner to protect his or her invention. An attorney can review your intellectual property and provide guidance on which form of protection is best suited for your needs.