By Naturally Moi
The grandson of Aunt Jemima–Anna Short Harrington– has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and all of her great grandchildren.
DW Hunter has filed a two billion dollar lawsuit against Quaker Oats, PepsiCo, Pinnacle Foods Group and The Hillshire Brands Company for using his great grandmother’s image without “equitable fair share of royalties.”
After Harrington took on the role of the Aunt Jemima character in 1935, her likeness was used by the companies and a trademark was registered for it.
The lawsuit alleges that even though Harrington’s image was used for Aunt Jemima, the companies denied that she was ever an employee and exploited her image and recipes for profit.
Hunter also alleges that the
company lied when claiming it could not find an employment history for Harrington or images of her, since they trade-marked her image.
According to The Wrap, the company also exploited the image of Harrington’s daughter as well:
Harrington took on the role of the pre-existing character of Aunt Jemima in 1935. In 1937, the company first registered the trademark for the brand. She was allegedly selected because of her own pancake recipe, which the company recreated for the mass market.
According to the suit, Quaker Oats sought out Harrington’s youngest daughter Olivia Hunter in 1989, ultimately using her likeness to update the look of Aunt Jemima. It is this image that is used today on Aunt Jemima-branded products.
It’s not only about the images since the lawsuit accuses the companies of stealing “64 original formulas and 22 menus from Harrington.”
The lawsuit claims that the companies exploited Harrington’s lack of education by discouraging her from using an attorney during negotiations.
The suit claims that the companies not only used Harrington’s image, but also licensed it out to other companies for profit.
Harrington’s family learned in 2013 that Harrington’s image had been trademarked and are now seeking royalties.