An Update on Seinfeld Food Fight: No Veggie Plagiarism

Photo credit: Joyce Dopkeen New York Times/Heidi Gutman NBC

Photo credit: Joyce Dopkeen New York Times/Heidi Gutman NBC

Looks like the fight between the deceptive and sneaky cookbooks is over.  Remember my previous article Debating the Merits of “Stealth” Veggies” about Jessica Seinfeld and Missy Chase Lapine?  It appears there was no culinary copyright infringement — the lawsuit was dismissed.  You can read more at CNN.

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain dismissed all claims brought against Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, “Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.”  In the lawsuit, filed in 2007, author Missy Chase Lapine accused Jessica Seinfeld of taking ideas from Lapine’s cookbook “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals.” Lapine’s cookbook was published in April 2007, six months before Seinfeld’s book.

“The court categorically rejected the claim that ‘Deceptively Delicious’ infringed the copyright and trademark of the plaintiff’s book,” said Orin Snyder, Seinfeld’s lawyer. “The federal judge ruled that ‘no reasonable fact finder could conclude’ that copying occurred here given that the works are ‘very different’ and that Jessica’s book ‘has a completely different feel.’ “

There’s an excellent review of the issue on the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog. Federal judge Laura Taylor Swain wrote:

Plaintiffs’ description of the allegedly protected expression –“giving instructions for making vegetable purees in advance, storing them for future use, and then using them in specially created recipes which include the pre-made purees as ingredients,” – is so abstract as clearly to fall into the category of unprotectible process or idea. It remains nothing more than the very idea that Plaintiffs recognized as unprotectible: hiding vegetables in foods children enjoy. Plaintiffs’ inclusion of process details, primarily focused on time-saving techniques, is insufficient to transform an unprotectible idea into a copyrightable expression of that idea.

6a00d8341bfc7553ef00e54f2ddeb28833-640wiSo maybe the fight is over.  I’m still not convinced the sneaky approach is the best way to get kids to eat their vegetables.

The end of the lawsuit will likely bring a whole new round of publicity for the book, however, I’m hopeful that this won’t be a validation of the stealth tactics. Read my earlier post.  The recipes weren’t even that nutritious!

The Meal Makeover Moms tested many of the recipes in the book, and they didn’t even taste good.  That’s so ironic since they were attempting to hide the supposedly bad taste of vegetables.

Now the case is closed.  Let’s go back to celebrating vegetables and finding new ways to have kids grow up loving broccoli, carrots and spinach — not hiding them in brownies.

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