Judge: Seinfeld book doesn't violate trademark

September 10, 2009 7:35:36 PM PDT
A federal judge Thursday tossed out a cookbook author's claim that comedian Jerry Seinfeld's wife was a culinary copycat when she came out with her own book explaining how to entice children to eat vegetables. U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain threw out the lawsuit brought against the Seinfeld couple by Missy Chase Lapine.

The judge rejected Lapine's claims against Jessica Seinfeld, saying that the books, both best sellers, were not similar except for their goal of hiding healthy food inside the favorite meals of children.

She called Lapine's book "a dry, rather text-heavy work" done predominantly in black, gray and shades of brownish-orange. She said Seinfeld's book was "bright and cheerful, full of different colors and various patterns." Consumers who looked at each book were unlikely to be confused, the judge said, tossing out trademark infringement claims.

However, the judge declined to rule on Lapine's claim that Jerry Seinfeld libeled her on David Letterman's show last year when he noted her three names and joked that people with three names - including James Earl Ray and Mark David Chapman - have turned out to be assassins.

She said those claims did not belong in federal court but should instead be filed in state court, where Lapine's lawyer, Howard Miller, said he planned to bring them.

"They are still very much alive," he said of the slander claims, along with claims against News Corp.'s HarperCollins that the publisher misappropriated information from Lapine's book when it rejected her proposal in February and May 2006. Miller said the decision hasn't been made on whether to appeal Swain's rejection of all claims against Jessica Seinfeld.

Lapine's book, titled: "The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals," was published in April 2007 by Running Press, an imprint of Perseus Books Group. Seinfeld's cookbook, titled: "Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food," was published in October 2007 by Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins.

Orin Snyder, a lawyer for the Seinfelds, called the ruling an "unequivocal victory" against "opportunistic and meritless claims" against Jessica Seinfeld.

"This confirms what we've been saying all along, that this is a trumped up claim," he said.

"Jessica did not copy anything from anyone and created her best-selling cookbook in her own kitchen from her own experiences," he said.

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