Julia Child Foundation In Legal Wrangles

     (CN) – Julia Child’s foundation and a home appliance-maker filed dueling lawsuits over whether the maker of the Thermador oven can use the legendary chef’s name and image without violating trademarks.
     BSH Home Appliances, which makes Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau home appliances, sued the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts in Boston Federal Court on Aug. 24.
     Child’s foundation responded Tuesday with two federal lawsuits in Los Angeles, one against BSH and the other against the DGWB Advertising firm.
     BSH seeks declaratory judgment that it can use Child’s name and image in its ads without violating her trademarks.
     It claims that “Ms. Child’s preference for and use of Thermador products, both on the set of her popular television show ‘the French Chef’ and in her personal kitchen, is well-known and widely documented. Plaintiff is informed … that Ms. Child’s personal kitchen was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., upon her passing, and remains on display to this day much as it appeared in her Massachusetts home, including her Thermador oven.
     “Plaintiff has used images of Ms. Child and references to the well-known historical fact of her use of Thermador products in various media, including on its website and on its social media pages. These uses do not state or imply any endorsement by Ms. Child of Thermador products. Rather, plaintiff’s use of these photos and references to Julia Child’s name and use of Thermador products reflect on the long history, significance and influence of Thermador products on American society and culture, and Ms. Child’s documented and well-known use of these products.”
     BSH claims it filed its complaint in response to a letter from Child’s foundation, in which the foundation “claimed exclusive ownership and control of the name, image, likeness and celebrity identity of the late Julia Child … [and that] plaintiff’s use of the Child publicity rights and Child IP rights constitutes copyright infringement, trademark infringement and a post-mortem violation of Julia Child’s right of publicity.”
     But BSH claims that its “use of the image and name of Julia Child are not directly connected to the sale of any merchandise, but rather are factual references to Julia Child’s well-known use of Thermador products, placed in proper context, including on a timeline chronicling the company’s history and in the ‘Our Heritage’ section of the Thermador website.”
     The complaint continues: “The timeline on Thermador’s website chronicles important events in the company’s history, dating back to its founding in 1916. The reference to Ms. Child appears around the 1970 mark of the timeline, and states that ‘Julia Child uses Thermador in her critically acclaimed PBS TV Series.’ It is accompanied by an image of Ms. Child on the set of her PBS television show.
     “Another reference on the timeline states: ‘2001 – Julia Child donates her kitchen to the Smithsonian, further cementing the brand’s place in popular American culture.’
     “Thermador’s social media pages include other factual references to Ms. Child. For example, Thermador’s Pinterest.com page states ‘Julia Child had Thermador appliances in her beloved kitchen.’ Similarly, Thermador’s facebook.com page includes a timeline, which includes an entry stating that ‘1970 – Julia Child uses Thermador in her critically acclaimed PBS TV Series.'”
     BSH seeks declaratory judgment that its use of Child’s name and image does not infringe upon any trademarks or copyrights, and that because Child lived in Massachusetts when she died, Massachusetts state law should be applied to any future claims of infringement.
     BSH is represented by Katherine Kayatta, with Robinson and Cole, in Boston.
     In its complaints in Los Angeles, the Child Foundation seeks damages for infringement of trademark, trade dress, slogan and copyright. It is represented by Charles Harder with Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin.

%d bloggers like this: