It’s not easy being Miss Piggy’s attorney, but someone’s got to do it. Enter Peter Schube, who in addition to being VP of business and legal affairs for Jim Henson Prods., is general counsel for the company’s worldwide operations.
His job, Schube explains, is to “protect the integrity and quality of the Muppet characters all around the world. We’re extremely vigilant in every market and medium.”
“We go after counterfeiters and infringers,” Schube says, “and we are exacting in the standards we impose on our licensing partners.”
Hired by Jim Henson in 1988, Schube handled the JHP deals with ABC/Cap Cities and Sony Pictures, deals that put the Muppetry ever closer to becoming, Schube says, “the preeminent children’s entertainment company.”
Schube’s legal skills were recently put to the test when the Hormel Foods Corp. attempted to sue JHP, alleging that the upcoming “Muppet Treasure Island” tarnished its trademark and falsely disparaged Spam products with the inclusion of the Muppet wild boar character “Spa’am.”
Citing Henson’s First Amendment rights, the U.S. District Court of New York, in an opinion written by Judge Kimba Wood, ruled in favor of JHP.
“It turns out that what we were doing in the movie,” says Schube, who, while not litigating the case, set the legal strategy, “is what we always do: We poked fun at popular cultural icons in all shapes, sizes and, in this case, species.”