If you see a line of frozen dinners in your local grocery store labeled “Contessa Inspired,” you might want to think twice before purchasing them. “Barefoot Contessa” Ina Garten is seeking a court order to bar the sale of a line of OFI Imports frozen dinners called “Contessa Inspired” that she contends are a direct copy. Allegedly, the line closely resembles a line of previously released Barefoot Contessa products.
The packaging and design of the real and knockoff Contessa products are almost identical, and Garten contends that the recipes OFI Imports used were identical to her own. She also says that OFI Imports is a repeat copyright infringement offender. According to Garten’s representatives, OFI Imports purchased assets from the Contessa Premium Foods Manufacturing company, but only had permission to sell previously manufactured foods for a short period of time. They are still selling the original products, but have also come out with these nearly-identical imitations.
According to Biz Journals, Contessa Premium Foods filed for Chapter 11 last April, and was acquired by OFI Imports in June for $21 million. However, Ina Garten’s popular line of frozen meals was not part of the deal. Contessa Premium Foods, despite the similarly sounding name, had no relationship with Barefoot Contessa.
"The continued production of products bearing the name 'Contessa Chef Inspired' and sold in a way that is virtually identical to 'Barefoot Contessa' dinners represents clear infringement of our intellectual property rights,” said Garten in a statement. “OFI has refused to stop, and that leaves no choice other than to pursue legal action that will protect the brand that I've built over the last 35 years."