Does spinach curb the urge to litigate? Lacoste caught in crossfire

All the way from the US comes this link to the NY Times, via the IPKat's friend Miri Frankel. It deals with Jessica Seinfeld's best selling cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, described as "a cookbook for parents of picky eaters". Readers have pointed out some similarities between this book, published this month by HarperCollins' imprint Collins, and The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine, published by Running Press. Both authors maintain that parents should purée healthy foods like spinach and sweet potatoes and hide them in childhood favourites like macaroni and cheese or brownies, to ensure their consumption by recalcitrant minors. It transpires that The Sneaky Chef was submitted to HarperCollins twice—once in February 2006 without an agent and again in May last year, the second time represented by an agent. Both times she was rejected. Lapine finally landed a deal with Running Press in June 2006, the month that Collins won an auction to publish Ms Seinfeld’s book.

The refreshingly good news is that no-one is threatening to sue anyone. Says the IPKat: bad news, perhaps, for kids who don't want to eat their spinach even when it's camouflaged. Adds Merpel: bad news for litigation lawyers too?

The IPKat's friend Juan Ramón Rubio Munoz writes to tell him about an interesting example of "trade mark abuse by third parties, undesirable association, parody and other misuses" -- the subject of one of the workshops at the MARQUES conference in Porto last month. He tells the Kat of a recent Spanish episode:

"Unfortunately, most of the info I have is in Spanish, but I’ll try to translate. First, by way of background, there is a political confrontation between the Socialist Party (PSOE, in government) and the Popular Party (PP, in opposition) relating to the inclusion in the public schools’ programme of “educación para la ciudadanía" (education for citizenship). This subject is supposed to teach children a school about the civic values of Spanish society (sex equality, non-discrimination by sex orientation, etc) and is promoted by the Socialist Party, whereas the Popular Party is opposed, since they are afraid it’s going to be a means for promulgating propaganda regarding the left’s social values. In the middle of this polemic, the young militants of the Socialist Party (“Juventudes Socialistas”) broadcast a video promoting “education for citizenship”, making a parody of a very popular TV quiz. In the original TV programme, two competitors try to discover as many words as possible of a set of hidden words, on the basis of their initial letter (one word for each one of the letters of the alphabet) and a short definition or description of the term. For instance: “Starting with “R”: biggest city of Italy, capital of this country” = “Rome”, and so on. The young socialist militants have juxtaposed in their parody a normal left-oriented young girl and a caricaturized extreme “posh” right-oriented young guy. Their questions and replies seek to illustrate (in exaggerated form) the different perception of these values by the two opponents. For instance, to the question: “Starting with “I”: Role of the women in our society”, the right-oriented guy replies “Inferioridad” (Inferiority) whereas the left-oriented girl replies “Igualdad” (equality). To the question “Starting with “M”: Legal union of two people with the same sex” the right-oriented guy replies “Mariconas” (a depictive term for homosexual) whereas the left-oriented girl replies “Matrimonio” (marriage). And so on. At the end of the video, the right-oriented guy gets a “Failed” score in civic values. You can watch the parody in full here.

As you can imagine, the right-oriented guy represents a ridiculous, silly, sexist and superficial person. But have a look to what he is wearing: a pink Lacoste polo with an exaggerated green crocodile on it".

Says the IPKat, so far as he is aware, the crocodile is blue, not green (but, then, he is a bit colourblind). Adds Merpel, Lacoste has sat back and done nothing publicly - which is probably the wisest thing to do in commercial terms. A false move by a brand owner can alienate consumers who perceive an attempt to preserve a brand's independence and integrity as a statement reflecting its own position regarding its political and sexual orientation.

Gay crocodile here
Does spinach curb the urge to litigate? Lacoste caught in crossfire Does spinach curb the urge to litigate? Lacoste caught in crossfire Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, October 28, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. The Seinfeld saga continues:

  2. I was disgusted to see Jerry Seinfeld slander that poor woman, Ms. Lapine, on Letterman. I’ll bet Jessica told him to go salvage her reputation or else. His diatribe was outright slander, and I think that this may show WHAT JERRY IS REALLY LIKE.

    I wouldn’t go see his humorless BEES movie (which is really just a rip-off of the ANTZ movie, done several years ago). I always felt that Jason Alexander really carried Seinfeld all those years.

    Jerry has a cruel streak as seen with his remark about Ms. Lapine, but, if you really know Jerry, it’s just par for the course.

  3. Missy Chase Lapine, the author of “The Sneaky Chef” who had previously said she did not intend to sue Jessica Seinfeld over Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious” has just filed suit against the Seinfelds. She is claiming infringement against Jessica and defamation against Jerry. I think it is rather curious that she did not make a claim against Jessica’s publisher HarperCollins. Harper is the known link between Lapine and Seinfeld – Harper reviewed and rejected Lapine’s Sneaky Chef manuscript and then published Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious. I would think Lapine would have a tough time prevailing on her infringement claim without Harper as a defendant if all she has to rely on against Seinfeld are some similar recipes that are not truly original to either author.


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