Home Appliance Manufacturer Sues to Use Julia Child Images in Historical Timeline

Home Appliance Manufacturer Sues to Use Julia Child Images in Historical Timeline

BSH Home Appliances Corporation, the manufacturer of high-end home appliances, last week sued for a declaratory judgment of trademark/copyright non-infringement regarding its use of Julia Child's images. BSH has used Child's images and has referenced her use of Thermador products in various media, including on its website and on its social media web pages.

In its complaint against the Julia Child Foundation, BSH argues that its use of Child's images neither states nor implies Child's endorsement of Thermador. Instead, Child's photos and references reflect the historical significance and influence of Thermador products, along with Child's documented use of these products. BSH states:

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.

BSH's assertion of non-infringement is based on the Foundation's alleged attempt to assert rights which it does not possess. Any Child copyright/trademark, according to BSH, cannot violate BSH's "basic rights" to tell the story of its brand through a historical timeline and in other similar factual accounts of the company's history. BSH asserts that its use of Child's name, image, likeness, celebrity identity or photograph is lawful, non-infringing and protected under the First Amendment.

"No sufficient and adequate alternative means exist to the use of the Child Trademarks in Plaintiff's historical timeline and in Plaintiff's other factual presentations of its company's past," BSH noted.  

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