Learn more about Peltz-Steele v. UMass Faculty Federation at Court Listener (complaint) and the Liberty Justice Center. The case is now on appeal in the First Circuit as no. 22-1466 (PACER paywall). Please direct media inquiries to Kristen Williamson.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Belgian-waffle makers battle over whose doughy goodness won pride of place on Oprah's list

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Two Massachusetts business are embroiled in a mouth-watering lawsuit over waffles and Oprah.

Oprah's 2021 "favorite things" featured "Eastern Standard Provisions Gourmet Liège Belgian Waffle Gift Box." Yum.

Eastern Standard Provisions is based in Waltham, Mass., and lists its "Classic Liège Belgian Waffles" for sale online. Here's the pitch:

Our artisanal Classic Liège Belgian Waffles are crafted with real butter and pearl sugar imported from Belgium for a light, sweet crunch. Our Classic Liège Belgian Waffles are different than other waffles you may be used to. Most waffles are made with batter, but our Classic Liège Belgian Waffles are made from dough delivering a soft, brioche-like texture and a one-of-a-kind waffle experience.

This is not Eastern Standard's Oprah debut. Its "artisanal soft pretzels" made the grade in 2019.

But wait. Based in Attleboro, Mass., the Burgundian gourmet street-food brassiere claims in a lawsuit (via WCVB) that Oprah picked Burgundian waffles for the list, because Eastern Standard ripped off the Burgundian recipe it had learned under a non-disclosure agreement when the two explored a co-branding venture.

According to the lawsuit, Burgundian founder Shane Matlock learned how to make the Liège waffles while serving in the U.S. Army, when, for three of 15 years, he was stationed on the France-Belgium border, and, the Burgundian website says, he premiered the waffles in Providence, Rhode Island (my home state, near Attleboro) in 2017.

All I know for sure is that I now have a craving for waffles.

The case is The Burgundian LLC v. Hawthorne Food Co. (Mass. Super. Ct. Suffolk Dep't Bus. Litig. Sess. filed Feb. 3, 2022).  The plaintiff alleges, inter alia, breach of contract, violation of state trade secret law, passing off, false advertising, and unfair trade practices.

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