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Seinfeld’s Wife Wins in Cookbook Infringement Appeal

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica, defeated a lawsuit accusing her of copyright and trademark infringement as a federal appeals court upheld a lower-court decision in her favor.

Seinfeld didn’t infringe the copyright and trademark of Missy Chase Lapine, author of “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals,” appellate judges in New York ruled today.

“Stockpiling vegetable purees for covert use in children’s food is an idea that cannot be copyrighted,” Judges Reena Raggi and Peter W. Hall said in a written order.

Lapine claimed in her lawsuit that Seinfeld’s 2007 book “Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food” was “substantially similar” to hers. A judge last September ruled in Seinfeld’s favor.

“Nothing was copied from Missy Chase Lapine and her baseless claims against Jessica were an abuse of the judicial system,” Orin Snyder, the lawyer at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP in New York who represented Seinfeld, said in an e-mailed statement. “Two different courts have now seen through these false allegations.”

Hidden Vegetables

Lapine said in her suit that publisher HarperCollins rejected her proposal for a book about hiding vegetables in children’s foods, then published one on the same subject by Seinfeld. Lapine’s book was later published by Perseus Books Group. HarperCollins is a unit of News Corp.

“This is one battle in a larger dispute,” Howard Miller, Lapine’s attorney with Girardi & Keese in Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview. “Still pending in state court of New York is a suit against Jerry Seinfeld for defamation for comments against Missy Lapine, and that action is going forward.”

Jerry Seinfeld “made very derogatory comments” about Lapine on David Letterman’s television program, Miller said.

Also named as defendants in the infringement lawsuit were Jerry Seinfeld, HarperCollins Publishers and Departure Productions LLC.

The case is Lapine v. Seinfeld, 09-4423-cv, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan). The lower-court case is Lapine v. Seinfeld, 1:08-cv-00128, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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