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Barefoot Contessa star sues maker of frozen dinners

The star of the popular Food Network show 'Barefoot Contessa" is suing a California company that she says is selling unauthorized reproductions of her products. On Feb. 17, television chef Ina Garten filed a lawsuit against OFI Imports Inc. in a Manhattan federal court. According to Garten, OFI has been selling look-alike versions of her Barefoot Contessa frozen meals without permission.

Barefoot Contessa dinners were sold from February 2013 until the spring of 2014 when the company shut down. A third-party company called Contessa Premium Foods manufactured the frozen dinners. Although OFI bought Contessa Premium Foods, it did not purchase licensing rights to use the trademarks and trade names associated with the Barefoot Contessa brand.

In her lawsuit, Garten is seeking a court order to stop sales of the look-alike frozen dinners. She is also seeking an award for damages, though it is unclear how much monetary compensation she is claiming in the lawsuit. According to a news release, Garten had no ownership interest in Contessa Premium Foods. Representatives for OFI did not immediately release any public statements about the litigation.

Intellectual property and licensing rights can often be the most valuable assets that a company owns. A business owner who believes that its intellectual property is being used without their permission might want to speak with an attorney about filing a claim for compensation. An attorney can attempt to negotiate an agreement with the infringing party to pay for the intellectual property it has been using without the requisite permission. If an agreement cannot be worked out, the attorney can pursue other legal and equitable remedies that may be available, including injunctive relief.

Source: ABC News, ""Barefoot Contessa Files Lawsuit Over Frozen Dinners", Associated Press, Feb. 18, 2015

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