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Seinfelds win bid to dismiss suit over cookbook

A judge throws out a plagiarism case over a cookbook written by Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Jessica, and a complaint that the comedian defamed the author who filed the suit.

September 11, 2009|Bloomberg News

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his wife, Jessica, won their bid to dismiss a lawsuit over her bestselling cookbook "Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Getting Your Kids Eating Good Food."

A federal judge in New York on Thursday dismissed the suit filed by Missy Chase Lapine, author of "The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals." Lapine accused Jessica Seinfeld of plagiarizing her book and Jerry Seinfeld of defaming her by calling her a "nut job" and "wacko" on national television.

"The similarities identified by plaintiffs are the result of the similar medium of expression used (cookbooks) or of the similar subject matter that both cookbooks address (hiding healthy foods in kid-friendly books)," U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain wrote in a court opinion.

Swain threw out copyright, trademark and unfair competition claims against Jessica Seinfeld, ruling that a reasonable jury couldn't find that "Deceptively Delicious," published in October 2007, infringed on Lapine's book. The federal judge also refused to rule on the defamation allegation against the comic, saying it was a matter for state courts.

Swain said the two cookbooks had many differences and appeared to target separate groups of readers.

Lapine's suit, filed last year, sought unspecified damages from the Seinfelds and from HarperCollins Publishers, a unit of News Corp.

In her complaint, Lapine said she sent a 139-page book proposal to HarperCollins in 2006. HarperCollins rejected the book, and it was published by Perseus Books Group in April 2007.

Lapine alleged that "Deceptively Delicious" stole her "concept, expression methodology, organization, structure, design, styling, look and feel," including ways to hide spinach and other vegetables in foods that children want to eat.

After the suit was filed, Jerry Seinfeld called Lapine a "wacko" on CBS Corp.'s "Late Show With David Letterman" and joked that many "three-named people do become assassins," according to Lapine.

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