According to a news source, the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation has sued Sprout Foods, Inc., an Oregon-based organic vegetarian baby food manufacturer, for failing to carry out its obligations to produce an Institute-branded line of products (Janey Baby®) under a 2010 licensing agreement. Jane Goodall Inst. for Wildlife Research, Educ. & Conservation v. Sprout Foods, Inc., No. 1:2011cv05554 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D.N.Y., filed August 10, 2011).

The plaintiff reportedly claims that it decided to license the Janey Baby® name to Sprout Foods after an “extensive search for a suitable licensee that could provide organic and vegetarian products in the infant food category.” Allegedly signed by Sprout Foods CEO Max McKenzie, the August 2010 agreement gave Sprout an exclusive license to use the famous primatologist’s brand and name in exchange for royalties generated by baby food sales.  

The Institute reportedly alleges that the baby food producer has not sold or made any Janey Baby® products, despite the parties’ expectations that they would generate net proceeds of $5.5 million in 2010 and $6 million in 2011. Seeking $720,000 for breach of contract, the Institute purportedly notified Sprout of the default in February 2011; the food producer’s attorneys apparently responded by stating that McKenzie lacked the authority to bind Sprout Foods to the agreement. See Courthouse News Service, August 12, 2011.