Two food celebrity giants who have both already amassed riches beyond belief from the media empires they’ve built, and the millions they’ve received in celebrity endorsements, demonstrate once again that greed has no bounds.
With some people, the more wealth they accumulate, the more they want, and their methods become unabashedly audacious, insolent, and morally bankrupt.
A German trade association is suing Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and Home Shopping Network for peddling a cheap, tawdry line of China-made kitchen knives as high-quality knives manufactured in Solingen, Germany.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Florida by the owners of Solingen, the finest quality Germany cutlery.
The suit claims the defendants are knowingly selling counterfeit knives to consumers on TV and online, and accuses the defendants of trademark infringement.
The knives are marked with the signature trademark “Emerils” and “Solingen, Germany,” on one side of the blade and are marked “China” on the other, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint cites “willing infringement” on the Solingen trademark, claiming that HSN “advertises, distributes, promotes, offers for sale and sells various knife products bearing counterfeits of the Chamber’s federally registered mark.”
CBS news notes Stewart is named in the suit because her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, owns Lagasse’s product line.
The suit calls her the “primary controlling force” behind MSLO and says she was “responsible for the licensing, advertising, promotion and sales” of the knives.
“I’m disappointed in the video when Emeril stated that the Santouku knife was made in Germany,” one consumer wrote, according to the complaint.
“That is terrible when a top chef lies to you on TV.” Other buyers allegedly complained that the knives “were rusting and breaking in half.”
The trade association is seeking an injunction preventing the defendants from selling the knives, and up to $2 million in damages for each instance of trademark infringement.
Food World News reports Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) made a deal with Lagasse and his companies for $50 million in 2008, therefore owning the Emeril product lines.
In a press release in February 2008, it reads: ‘”Emeril brings talent, energy and legions of fans to the Martha Stewart family, along with a powerful brand and an attractive, profitable business franchise,” said Susan Lyne, President and Chief Executive Officer of MSLO.
“Emeril’s high-quality food-related content and product lines complement our own, and offer multi-platform expansion opportunities.”‘
The lawsuit is seeking “up to $2 million for EACH time the knives were mentioned” on HSN, according to Forbes.
“That figure will certainly skyrocket seeing that HSN runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year, and reaches approximately 96,000,000 homes.”
Forbes writer John Clarke notes that Stewart has had a string of bad luck since she was convicted in 2004 on charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice, and sentenced to a five-month prison term.
“Hallmark Channel canceled her TV show, and ad pages in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living are down almost 40 percent from this time last year, according to Media Industry Newsletter. Also, MSLO has posted several years of losses.”
Clarke adds that at less than $3, shares are worth only 8 percent of the $40 they hit after she took it public in 1999.