MANHATTAN (CN) – The nonprofit Jane Goodall Institute says a vegetarian baby food company owes it $720,000 in royalties for an unsuccessful plan to sell “Janey Baby” products.
The Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation sued Sprout Foods in Federal Court.
Jane Goodall spent 45 years studying the social interactions of great apes in Tanzania, and founded her institute in 1997.
The Goodall Institute says that in early 2010 it began an “extensive search for a suitable licensee that could provide organic and vegetarian products in the infant food category,” and identified Sprout as a potential match.
Sprout, co-founded by Food Network star chef Tyler Florence, advertises itself as an eco-friendly baby food company that uses beneficial insects instead of pesticides on its crops, repurposes used packaging and creates energy using plant and animal waste.
The Goodall Institute’s agent, Brand2 Squared Licensing, negotiated with Sprout CEO Max McKenzie, and they signed an agreement on Aug. 31, 2010, according to the complaint, which includes the license agreement and royalty rates as exhibits.
“The agreement grants to Sprout, inter alia, an exclusive license to use the famous and highly regarded names and trademarks Jane Goodall and Janey Baby by Jane Goodall in connection with infant food for children aged six months to two years,” the complaint states,
In return, Sprout promised the Goodall Institute a percentage of net sales, or certain minimum guaranteed royalty payments.
Goodall says she found time in her grueling schedule to help market the new product.
“Despite Dr. Goodall’s obligations that keep her on the road for approximately 300 days out of the year, Dr. Goodall herself traveled to Oregon in October 2010 to make a personal appearance with Sprout at its organic supplier farm for the purpose of generating promotional materials for the Licensed Products that Sprout was to sell under the Agreement,” the complaint states. The Goodall Institute says the parties hoped to net $5.5 million in 2010 and $6 million by the end of this year.
But the Goodall Institute says Sprout has not sold or even made any “Janey Baby” foods at all.
The Goodall Institute says it sent Sprout a notice of default on Feb. 4, and Sprout’s lawyers responded by saying that McKenzie had no authority to enter the agreement.
The Institute seeks $720,000 for breach of contract.
It is represented by Eric Lobenfeld with Hogal Lovells.