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Dallas-based Mary Kay files suit against ex-assistant who wrote a book

Dallas-based Mary Kay files suit against ex-assistant who wrote book

Mary Kay Ash
Mary Kay Ash.

A former employee of Dallas-based Mary Kay Inc. has written a book that the cosmetics company is trying to block.

Jennifer Bickel Cook, a long-time assistant to Mary Kay Ash, wrote a book called Pass It On: What I Learned from Mary Kay Ash, which was published on October 5 by Brown Books Publishing Group.

In response, Mary Kay filed a lawsuit with a series of allegations against Cook and a demand that the book no longer be sold.

The complaint says that:

  • Cook included work copyrighted by Mary Kay Inc. without permission, violating copyright laws
  • created a false endorsement by implying that Mary Kay had endorsed the book
  • violated a non-disclosure agreement with Mary Kay
  • got Mary Kay salespeople to sell the book

The complaint says that consumers "are likely to be confused and wrongly believe that the book is sponsored, endorsed, approved by, affiliated, connected, or otherwise associated with Mary Kay."

According to the lawsuit, Cook agreed to show the book to Mary Kay before it was published, but waited until October 4, one day before its release.

"Mary Kay immediately asked Cook to provide a copy of the Book so that Mary Kay could review the contents. Although Cook promised that she would provide copies of the Book, she never did," the complaint says.

"Only then did it become clear why Cook was so hesitant to provide the book to Mary Kay before its publication: Cook's book is both replete with Mary Kay's copyrighted works (containing no more than two to three chapters of original content about Cook's own experiences and recollections) and appears designed to confuse consumers into thinking the book is endorsed, sponsored, or approved by Mary Kay," the complaint notes.

Cook worked at Mary Kay from 1974 to 2017. Her last position was as Director of the Mary Kay Museum involved curating, documenting, and organizing information, stories, photographs, and documents relating to Mary Kay and Mary Kay Ash.

A spokesman from Brown Books told Publishers Weekly that Pass It On was a "love letter" to Mary Kay. The book is now on its second printing of 10,000 copies, and may go back for a third printing.