Friday, September 11, 2009

Judge Rules on the Seinfeld Plagiarism Suit

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain threw out the lawsuit Missy Chase Lapine brought against Jessica Seinfeld. Ms. Lapine alleged that Jerry Seinfeld's wife had plagiarized her cookbook.

Lapine's book--The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals--was released April 4, 2007 by Running Press. Seinfeld's book--Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food was released almost exactly six months later on October 5, 2007 by HarperCollins.

Both cookbooks became best-sellers, with sales probably helped by all the media fuss created by the lawsuit.

The Associated Press had this to say:
She (Judge Swain) 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.
Judge Swain refused to address Lapine's charge of libel (sic) against Jerry Seinfeld. She referred Lapine to the New York State Court to pursue that claim.

Seinfeld appeared on the David Letterman show about a year ago and spoke of the lawsuit. He said that his wife was being accused of a "Watergate-style break-in at HarperCollins" (Lapine's publisher).

Seinfeld went on to say, ". . . we're sorry that she is--you know--angry and hysterical and because she's a three-name woman, which is what concerns me. She has three names and--you know--if you read history, many of the three-named people do become assassins . . . Mark David Chapman."

You can listen to the segment on Letterman here.

Of course, the judge might have refused to hear the libel charge because she has a conflict of interest, also being a "three-name woman."

This morning's Publishers Lunch reported:
Lapine's lawyer Howard Miller tells the AP they will indeed refile those charges: "The claims against Jerry Seinfeld for defamation are still fully alive. Miller says that "claims against HarperCollins that the publisher misappropriated information from Lapine's book when it rejected her proposal in February and May 2006" will also continue.
To read the background on this case, go to my post of 10/21/07 here.


Michele Lee said...

Personally I think the situation is suspicious, but any editor will tell you they often get similar submissions. It is likely they were already in talks with Seinfield when Lapine queried them.

However, Seinfield's comments on Letterman were completely mean-natured and uncalled for.

Marian said...

I have to admit, I laughed at the three-name woman comment. It's just the kind of thing I'd expect from Seinfeld.