Missy Chase Lapine, author of “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals”, has come up empty in her claims against Jerry Seinfeld and his wife, Jessica. Lapine had sued Jessica, author of “Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food”, for copyright and trademark infringement. But Manhattan federal district court Judge Laura Swain threw those claims out in a decision released Thursday, finding sufficient differences between the two books.
“[The] court finds that neither the total and feel of the two works nor the points of similarity identified by plaintiffs is sufficient, as a matter of law, to support a finding of substantial similarity of copyrightable material between the two works,” wrote Judge Swain. “In other words, no reasonable fact finder could conclude on this record that an ordinary lay observer would be disposed to overlook the disparities between the words and find them, in their specifics or in their totality, to have the same asethetic appeal.”
Orin Snyder of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, who represents the Seinfelds and Jessica’s publisher, HarperCollins, said in a statement: “The ruling in Jessica’s favor is unequivocal, dismissing every claim made by the plaintiff against her and confirming that this opportunistic and meritless lawsuit never should have been brought in the first place. No one copied anything from the plaintiff–not Jessica and not HarperCollins. Jessica created her best-selling cookbook in her own kitchen and from her own experiences.”
Judge Swain declined to exercise jurisdiction over a defamation claim Lapine made against Jerry for his appearance on the “The Late Show with David Letterman” in which he said that “one of the fun facts of celebrity life is that wackos will wait in the woodwork to pop out,” adding that “many three-named people do become assassins.”
Judge Swain also declined to hear Lapine’s claims that HarperCollins stole her manuscript and breached an implied contract it had with her. Lapine’s lawyer, Howard Miller of Girardi & Keese, told us on Thursday that he plans on filing those claims in New York state court. He added that he was reviewing Judge Swain’s decision on the copyright claims and considering an appeal.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Litigation Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.