Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and the Home Shopping Network have been selling counterfeit German cutlery, according to a German trade association asking a federal judge in Miami for an injunction.
The Chamber of Industry and Commerce Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams to order Stewart's companies, which bought Lagasse's brand, and HSN to stop selling cutlery "bearing trademarks which are indistinguishable from the Chamber's registered certification mark."
The German region east of Duesseldorf is home to many small companies that use the Chamber's certification mark on their products. For example, Henckels and Wusthof are renowned companies that properly label their products and packaging with the Solingen mark, according to the association's amended complaint.
The trade association cited many exhibits to show the defendants promoted fake Solingen cutlery to profit from its reputation without the Chamber's permission. One exhibit is a brochure for Emeril-Wusthof cutlery that quotes Lagasse saying, "The only knives that make Emeril say, 'Bam!'"
Another exhibit is a book forward allegedly written by Lagasse that describes a trip to a knife museum in Solingen, Germany, and states, "It was on that visit that I realized knives had an incredible history worth studying and getting involved in."
In the defendants' response prepared by Andrew Bray of Vernis & Bowling in North Miami, Lagasse concedes the forward contains the museum trip reference. However, "Emeril Lagasse has no recollection of authoring said foreword."
The trade association brought the lawsuit in September, accusing the cable television celebrities, their companies, HSN and SED International Holdings Inc. of federal trademark infringement, counterfeiting, false designation of origin and common law unfair competition.
Represented by Catherine Hoffman of Mayback & Hoffman in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the trade association seeks $24 million in damages. She had no comment by deadline.
An amended complaint filed November 6 alleges the defendants willfully promoted, advertised, distributed and sold at least a dozen different types of cutlery and knives bearing the association's trademark name Solingen.