Jenny Craig Inc. of Del Mar contends in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco that Nutri/System's current ads are "false, deceptive and misleading." Weight Watcher International of Jericho, N.Y., adds another complaint; in addition to misusing Stanford's moniker, Weight Watcher contends that the ad campaign bashes its own weight-loss program.
And Stanford's own lawsuit gets straight to the heart of the ages-old question: What's in a name.
"When a faculty member from Stanford says something, people listen," said Susan K. Hoerger, senior university counsel. "When (Nutri/System says) that a Stanford medical school report says something, people believe it. They are, in their advertising, using Stanford's name and logo and seal of the university in a way that falsely creates in the consumer an impression that Stanford endorses Nutri/System when we haven't researched it or studied it."