BOSTON — A foundation set up by late chef Julia Child is locked in a legal fight with the manufacturer of Thermador ovens for touting her use of its high-end appliances.
The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts claims BSH Home Appliances Corp. is using Child's name and image without permission. The Irvine, Calif.-based manufacturer says it is simply making a factual reference to Child's use of its appliances.
BSH filed a lawsuit in Boston against the foundation last week, asking a federal judge to determine the rights of both sides. The foundation countered by filing two lawsuits this week against BHS, one in state court in Santa Barbara, Calif., where the foundation is based, and the other in federal court in Los Angeles. The lawsuits ask for an injunction to stop BSH from using Child's name and seek unspecified monetary damages.
Child, who died in 2004, had a Thermador oven in her Cambridge kitchen. It's now displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington. She also used Thermador products on the set of her popular television show, "The French Chef."
In its complaint, BSH said the foundation last month sent the company a letter in which it said it has exclusive ownership and control of Child's name, image, likeness and celebrity identity as well as trademarks and copyrights related to her. BSH said the foundation alleged that BSH's use of Child's name and image constitutes copyright infringement, trademark infringement and "a post-mortem violation of Julia Child's right of publicity."
The foundation demanded that BSH stop using the name, image and "all other indicia of Julia Child's personality," according to the complaint filed by BSH.
BSH acknowledges that it has used images of Child and references to her use of Thermador products on its website and on social media sites, but its attorneys wrote in the complaint that "those uses do not state or imply any endorsement by Ms. Child."
The company said its references to Child "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."
The foundation, in its lawsuits, said Child, who rose to prominence in the 1960s through her books and TV appearances, had many endorsement opportunities during her lengthy career but chose to forgo them.
"Instead, she focused her career on public education, and allowed her show to be broadcast on PBS, a nonprofit television network, for its entire 10-year run," the state lawsuit said.
The foundation said BHS has featured Child's name and photo prominently in advertising, marketing and promotional materials, including on the homepage of the Thermador website, creating the appearance the Child had been its spokeswoman during her career.
Child was opposed to endorsing products, brands or services, the foundation said in a statement Wednesday.
"She believed it detracted from her credibility as a trusted source to her many fans and colleagues who relied on her for information, guidance and inspiration," the statement said.
Dan Aykroyd As Julia Child On SNL
As a cultural icon, Julia became fair game for TV's top comedians. In 1978, Dan Aykroyd impersonated her on "Saturday Night Live," mocking the frequent mishaps that she encountered on the show. In the skit, Aykroyd pretends to cut his thumb while cooking, and continues the show while trying to suppress the injury, refusing to stop filming.
"Julie And Julia"
Nora Ephron's film "Julie and Julia," starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, followed the lives of Julia Child and Julie Powell, a young blogger who seeks to cook all of Child's classic recipes in one year. The first major film based on a blog, "Julie and Julia" had a positive response from critics and was nominated for several prestigious awards.
In 1993, Julia became the first woman to be inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame. In 2000, she received France's prestigious Legion d'Honneur for popularizing French cuisine and in 2002, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History opened an exhibit that displayed the kitchen where she filmed three of her cooking shows in the 1990's. She was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.
Paul And Julia Child: The Perfect Team
Julia and Paul worked as a team, each using their talents to contribute to Julia's vibrant career. Paul served as a photographer, manager, proofreader, recipe tester and anything else that Julia needed him to be. He reveled in her success, supporting her in every way possible.
A Lively Youth
Julia was known to be a prankster in her younger years. When she wasn't stirring up mischief, she threw her energy into various sports including golf, tennis and small-game hunting. Here, she is pictured in Smith College's 1934 yearbook.
The College Years
Though she towered above her classmates at six feet two inches tall, Julia used humor and wit to fit in. Here she appears (front row, center) with fellow Junior Promenade Committee members at Smith College in 1934.
Julia The Spy
After college, Julia pursued a career in writing without much success. When World War II began she decided to focus her attention elsewhere, and moved to Washington D.C., where she volunteered as a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). In this position, Julia was sent around the world on assignments, liaising between government officials and intelligence officers. Here, she is pictured with OSS colleagues.
Finding Love In The OSS
In 1945, while on an assignment in Sri Lanka, Julia met fellow OSS employee Paul Child. The two fell madly in love and married a year later.
Introduction To French Cuisine
When Paul was transferred to France in 1948, Julia found herself bored as a housewife with no children. She began taking classes at Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School and quickly grew passionate about French cuisine. Soon, she partnered with classmates Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to begin teaching French cooking to American women in her kitchen. The informal school was named The School of the Three Food Lovers.
"Mastering The Art Of French Cooking"
Paul Child's position kept Julia moving throughout Europe, but she kept in communication with Beck and Bertholle, researching and testing recipes. Julia translated the recipes into English and inserted her personality into the classic cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which was published in 1961.
A Surprising Success
In order to promote her cookbook, Julia made an appearance on a public TV show in Boston, which garnered such an enthusiastic response that she was invited back to do her very own cooking show. Julia became a local celebrity on "The French Chef", and the show was soon syndicated to almost 100 TV stations across the country.
"The French Chef" Makes Its Mark
Over the course of 10 years, "The French Chef" won a Peabody Award and various Emmy Awards. Julia's humor was a staple on the show, as were mishaps that she incorporated into her cooking lessons. Each show ended with Julia's signature "Bon appétit!"
Becoming An Authority In The Kitchen
Like any good chef, Julia wrote a host of cookbooks following the smash success of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." She went on to pen "The French Chef Cookbook," which featured recipes that she had cooked on the show, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two" and "From Julia Child's Kitchen," which featured notes she had compiled on set and photographs taken by her husband. In 1980, she won a National Book Award for her book "Julia Child and More Company."
Julia Child: Celebrity Chef
Julia's TV success extended far beyond "The French Chef." She starred in various television series in the 1970's and 1980's, including "Julia Child & Company," "Julia Child & More Company" and "Dinner at Julia's." She was just as active in the 1990's, starring in "Cooking with Master Chefs, In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs," "Baking With Julia, and Julia Child," and "Jacques Pépin Cooking at Home."
The Later Years
"Retired people are boring," was Julia's motto, so even in her 90's, she was working on her next endeavor. Julia's final book "My Life in France" was published after her death in 2004 with the help of her great nephew, Alex Prud'homme. The book chronicled Julia's life with her husband in post-World War II France, and eventually became a bestseller.