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Oven maker heats up copyright dispute with Julia Child's foundation

The maker of the ovens Julia Child liked to use yesterday sued the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronmy and the Culinary Arts to keep using the late chef's image in an online timeline about the company's history.

According to BSH Home Appliances - maker of Thermador ovens - it filed a preemptive suit in US District Court in Boston yesterday because the foundation was threatening to sue it over its use of some photos of Child and her kitchen, claiming copyright over any likenesses of the former Cambridge resident.

In its lawsuit, BSH says the images it used were never owned or copyrighted by Child or the foundation and that it has a First Amendment right to discuss and highlight her use of its products to chronicle its own history.

BSH says it used one photo of Child to note she used a Thermador oven when "The French Chef" went on the air and another showing her home Thermador-equipped kitchen to note her estate donated it to the Smithsonian after her death in 2004.

The images are no longer on the timeline.

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 web 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 those products.

Plaintiff's uses 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 historical "Our Heritage" section of the Thermador website.

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They want Thermador to pay for historical facts? Really, REALLY?

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Neither Julia Child's image nor name are present on the timeline to which the article links. Curious.

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The company probably took them down pending the outcome of all the legal wrangling.

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