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Judge sides with naughty puppets in movie lawsuit

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2018 | Business Litigation

Intellectual property is a complex area of law. Some entrepreneurs may not realize they are committing copyright infringement if they create a logo or catchphrase that closely resembles another company’s protected trademark. Others may use intellectual property in the form of music lyrics, novel excerpts and phrases without the original owner’s permission. Florida business owners should understand that copyright infringement can have a detrimental impact against the copyright owner if it deceives consumers into thinking the infringing company is affiliated with the original company or that its products are the genuine thing.

This can be especially irksome if the alleged infringement shines a bad light on the company holding the trademark or unfairly lures business elsewhere. According to Fortune, the former point was the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Sesame Workshop against the makers of the upcoming Melissa McCarthy movie “The Happytime Murders.” The focus of the suit alleged infringement against the children’s show “Sesame Street” in the movie’s tagline, “No Sesame. All Street.” The plaintiffs were concerned that parents would think Sesame Street creators were affiliated or in support of the R-rated movie.

However, a judge recently ruled in favor of STX Entertainment, allowing the company to continue using the tagline for promotions and stating that the public had not complained about the Sesame Street reference. There was no sufficient proof consumers would confuse the children’s show with anything related to the movie, said the judge.

The final point is important for those who make references to movies and other media that are highly recognizable. The wording of a tagline may be original, but those who create them should ensure consumers will not be misled.