Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse are on the chopping block in a multimillion dollar lawsuit alleging the pair sold a line of bogus knives, TMZ reports.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO), the company that owns the Lagasse line, was selling a line of knives on the Home Shopping Network inscribed with the words "Solingen, Germany." Solingen is a region in northern Germany called the "City of Blades" and known for its world-class cutlery. Consumers believed the knives were made in the famous city, but the products were reportedly knock-offs from China, according to TMZ.
The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid, a trade association that holds the rights to the world-famous Solingen knife collection, has sued Stewart and her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Lagasse and HSN for trademark infringement for “up to $2,000,000 for EACH time the knives were mentioned" on HSN, according to Forbes.
Forbes notes this amount can tick up quickly since "HSN runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year, and reaches approximately 96,000,000 homes."
MSLO signed a deal with Lagasse and his various companies under the Emeril brand for $50 million, according to the lawsuit obtained by Deadline.com.
The lawsuit also includes a complaint from a customer who purchased a 5-inch Santouku Knife bearing a counterfeit of the Solingen Certification Mark. The customer wrote a review of the product stating she was misled by HSN:
I’m disappointed in the video when Emeril stated that the Santouku knife was made in Germany. This is the main reason I made the purchase. Come to find out it is made in China. That is terrible when a top chef lies to you on tv. Wish I would have known. Emeril cannot be trusted with what he advertises
Others complained that the knives were "rusting and breaking," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The suit cites "willing infringement" on the Solingen trademark, alleging that HSN "advertises, distributes, promotes, offers for sale and sells various knife products bearing counterfeits of the Chamber's federally registered mark." The Solingen trade name goes back to about 1853.
Last year, MSLO and Kmart settled lawsuits made by three individuals after patio chairs branded by Stewart's company reportedly injured their fingers, USA Today reported. The lawsuits claimed Stewart's lounge chairs' legs are defective and snap forward, "serving as a guillotine" for fingers and hands that may be placed between the legs and the chair. The suits were settled for undisclosed amounts.
In 2004, Stewart was sentenced to five months in prison for lying to investigators about her sale of ImClone Systems stock in late 2001.