The Wise Puppeteer

We can learn a lot from this puppet and his creator...

Who doesn’t recognize this cute GREEN face? Over the past 60 years, the characters that Jim Henson created are still entertaining audiences today.

I believe one of the keys to Jim’s enormous personal success was his smart use of intellectual property.

Patents, copyright and trademarks all played a role in the protection of The Muppets, including his arguably most popular character, Kermit the Frog!

This wise legal action enabled Jim to create and develop what he wanted and how he wanted. He was able to protect his work for as long as he desired.

Interested in television since childhood, Jim was introduced to puppetry, while still in high school, answering an advertisement to work with puppets on a television station’s morning show.

This break led to Jim starting his own TV show which debuted a character called ‘Kermit the Frog’. The “Sam and Friends” show debuted in 1955 and was very popular.

Initially, Jim used cardboard inside to help shape the head. Henson said of his design of Kermit, “He’s one of the simplest kinds of puppets that you can make, and he’s very flexible because of that… which gives him a range of expression.” Basically “the simple construction allowed the performer's arm and hand to produce a wide range of expression and gestures”, and I can see why this realistically designed frog became so popular!

Then in 1958, Jim filed a design patent for this puppet, and continued this wise action for each character he created.

One other creative thing I'd like to mention is that Jim (and his partner-turned-wife, Jane) developed the way we view puppets on TV today!
    - They eliminated the traditional boxed "puppet stage" and used the TV viewing frame as the "box" or stage.
    - This enabled more life-like movement and "interaction" with the TV audience.

Over the following 36 years, Henson created numerous TV shows and characters and he became very successful in business. This entire time, he protected his characters, creations and shows every step of the way.  

Henson registered trademarks for the names or terms such as “Muppets”, “The Muppet Show”, and “Kermit the Frog”. Eventually, his own name was also trademarked. 


All this legal protection paid off and in 2004, Disney bought the intellectual property rights to a good deal of the characters, including Kermit the Frog, from the Jim Henson Company for $75 million.

So from now on when you see or think of, Kermit the Frog remember how valuable your IP can be.

Whether you protect your name, logo, catchphrase, design/appearance of an item, etc., make sure you protect as much as you can, just like Jim!


** To find out more about how Invent Shine can help you with your ideas AND to get your FREE COPY of "Empowering Ideas" by Tom Cartwright, click HERE.


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