5:59pm PT by Eriq Gardner
'Real Housewives' Stars Dragged Into Lawsuit Over Bottled Water
Several stars of The Real Housewives of New Jersey have been named in a lawsuit over who came up with the idea for a special bottled water product.
The concept is said to be a "better mousetrap" of water drinks, where H2O is infused with a proprietary blend of fulvic and humic acid. Two companies, BLK Brands and Creative Thinkers, offer alternative versions of how the idea for "Blackwater" was developed. On Thursday, Creative Thinkers countersued BLK as well as Housewives stars Chris Manzo, Albie Manzo, and Chris Laurita, alleging among other things that the stars' TV fame was used to sell an allegedly false story about how the idea for this drink originated.
The two companies have been fighting for several months over a process that supposedly darkens water temporarily before the minerals settle to the bottom of the glass.
In BLK's origination story, a pair of sisters, Jacqueline and Louise Wilkie, partners at BLK, developed the brew in 2008 in response to their mother having terminal bone cancer and being told she had a year to live. The sisters say they provided their sick mother with Fulvic concentrate power treatments, which miraculously worked, eventually spurring the idea behind a water-based drink.
BLK is pursuing trademark infringement and unfair competition claims, seeking declaratory relief so that a judge might put an ocean between them and their aquatic adversaries.
Creative Thinkers remains undeterred.
In counterclaims, the Canada-based company says it introduced the water process in 2009 and shared it with the Wilkie sisters, who told them of connections with Starbucks. Creative says the parties entered into a non-disclosure agreement for the "Blackwater Drink Products," and one of the Wilkie sisters was allowed to register a trademark on "Blackwater" on behalf of Creative Thinkers.S
In June 2010, at the New York Fancy Foods Show, the Housewives stars entered the picture. There, the Wilkie sisters met the Manzo-Laurita family and the alleged plot to steal modified water bubbled up. The trademark registration was allegedly transferred illegitimately, a new company was formed, and any hope that water wouldn't cause splashy litigation evaporated.
The Manzo-Laurita family is said by Creative Thinkers to have used the mark on their international reality TV show to promulgate a false story about the origins of this water. Creative Thinkers alleges breach of contract, trademark infringement, fraud, and other counterclaims, demanding a judge wash away the damage.