Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse are being sued over trademark infringement stemming from knives sold in their collections. A recent report from Fox News indicates that the two celebrities are accused of selling counterfeit cutlery. The Home Shopping Network (HSN) has also been included in the lawsuit. The legal problems that Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse are currently facing are not unique to celebrities because counterfeit products affect many manufacturers. Document Security Systems (DSS) estimates that businesses lose $350 billion a year because of counterfeiting.
The Chamber of Industry and Commerce Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid in Germany has accused Stewart and Lagasse of selling fake knives. The trade association has filed a preliminary injunction, and it appears it has strong evidence for its lawsuit. Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and the Home Shopping Network have been cited for selling fake Solingen cutlery. The trade association has put together a large file that includes numerous examples of the knives being sold. The Solingen trademark is unique to the region in Germany and signifies that the product has been exclusively made by the artisans.
The Solingen cutlery sold by HSN has the words “China” on one side. However, “Solingen Germany” is included on the other side. The case has been filed at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and the Home Shopping Network are being accused of deliberately copying the Solingen name and selling counterfeit products. They have revealed that “they didn’t get approval for using the “Solingen” certification mark,” so the trade association has a strong case against them.
Solingen has also included a brochure that shows Emeril Lagasse advertising the fake knives and using his trademark phrase. The association points out that in one of his books he mentions traveling to Germany and seeing Solingen products. It believes this is enough to show a deliberate and premeditated plan to use their products and commit trademark infringement. Emeril Lagasse and the Home Shopping Network have not addressed these claims.
Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and the Home Shopping Network could lose $24 million if the trade association wins the lawsuit. Although the defendants claim that the use of the Solingen name was not intentional, it could be difficult to prove this. Document Security Systems points out that counterfeit products cost companies $350 billion a year. Even celebrities are not immune from selling the fakes. DSS shares that this practice “erodes profits” for the legitimate businesses while wasting their time in courtrooms.
Document Security Systems has some recommendations for Solingen that the trade association may want to consider. Although remaining vigilant and fighting trademark infringement will continue to be important steps for the company, DSS also recommends creating a better tracking method for its existing products. It also suggests adding advanced technology to help users identify its products easier.
Counterfeit products are a global issue with a recent case in Staffordshire that had $24 million of fakes in one shipment. The businesses that are affected by this issue vary greatly. Authorities recently found a shipment of counterfeit Detroit Tigers merchandise with a value of $300,000. Fighting the flood of fake products in the marketplace is an ongoing battle. Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse and the Home Shopping Network are simply the latest defendants to make the headlines because of their trademark infringement.