Seinfeld's wife wins second round in book battle

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cookbook author Jessica Seinfeld, wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, did not plagiarize techniques for sneaking healthy foods into child-friendly dishes, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld (R) and wife Jessica Seinfeld arrive at the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California March 7, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for New York’s second circuit upheld a lower court ruling from last year.

Cookbook author Missy Chase Lapine sued Seinfeld, her husband and publisher HarperCollins, in Manhattan federal court in 2008.

Lapine said Jessica Seinfeld’s book “Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets To Get Your Kids Eating Good Food,” published by HarperCollins in 2007, stole from her own “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals,” which had been released four months earlier.

Lapine alleged copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and trademark dilution. The suit also accused Jerry Seinfeld of embarking on a “slanderous attack” against Lapine on U.S. national television shows.

As a guest on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” the comedian had joked that his wife was being accused of “vegetable plagiarism.”

Last year a federal judge threw out the plagiarism claims and declined to consider the slander claim.

In upholding that ruling, the appeals panel found there were major differences in the content, style and presentation of the two books.

“Stockpiling vegetable purees for covert use in children’s food is an idea that cannot be copyrighted,” the appeals court ruled.

“This is one battle in a larger dispute,” Lapine’s lawyer, Howard Miller, said in a statement.

A separate lawsuit against the publisher and Jerry Seinfeld is pending in New York State Supreme Court.

Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Xavier Briand