The Tokyo office of international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has advised Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit educational organization, on the formation of a partnership of Japanese companies to feature well-known Sesame Street Muppets, such as Elmo and Big Bird, and new Muppet characters in a local adaptation of the award-winning series Sesame Street.
Sesame Street Partners Japan (SSPJ) will finance the new co-production of the Japanese version of Sesame Street, secure broadcast, and manage the Sesame Street brand in Japan. SSPJ includes Asatsu-DK Inc. (an advertising agency), WE’VE, Inc. (a licensing company), Nikkeisha, Inc. (an advertising agency), Television Tokyo Broadband Entertainment (the broadband arm of broadcaster TV Tokyo) and Odyssey Communications Inc. (an education company providing IT certification programs and English language training).
Gary E. Knell, Sesame Worshop’s President and CEO, said at a press conference yesterday in Tokyo, “Whether you’re an adult, teen, or child, you’ve grown up with the beloved faces of Elmo and Big Bird. We’re now creating a series for a new generation of children incorporating a curriculum created specifically for them.”
Timothy Wilkins, the Freshfields Tokyo office partner leading the transaction, commented, “It has been exciting being involved with the establishment of the Japanese version of Sesame Street, an educational program that has enjoyed immense popularity for over 25 years in Japan. The negotiation of the master licensing agreement went quite smoothly given the many complex issues related to licensing the broadcasting, marketing and promotional rights of the Sesame Street brand in Japan.”
In addition to Timothy Wilkins, the Freshfields team included the head of the Asia TMT sector group, Connie Carnabuci, a partner in the Hong Kong Office, and associates Mami Karatsu, Kiet Dang, Iain Roy and Gwendolyn Clayton.