Julia Child Foundation sues Thermador oven company over marketing campaign

For G - 15jcbday - Cooking legend and cultural icon Julia Child, along with her pioneering public television series “The French Chef,” introduced French cuisine to American kitchens. In her passionate and sometimes breathless way, Julia forever changed the way Americans cook, eat, and think about food. (WGBH)
Julia Child brought French cuisine to American kitchens through her PBS show, “The French Chef.”Credit: (WGBH-TV)

The foundation championing the legacy of kitchen celebrity Julia Child is in a legal dispute with an oven manufacturer over a marketing campaign that features the culinary magnate.

The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts has sued BSH Home Appliances Corp., the manufacturer of Thermador ovens, because the company has used images and quotes from Julia Child on their website, in advertising, and on social media.

In turn, the oven company has launched a countersuit, arguing that its advertisments are simply stating a historical fact: Child loved her Thermador oven.

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“Throughout her life, and career, Julia Child had many opportunities for commercial advancement, including entering into commercial endorsement opportunities with companies in the food and culinary industry,” the foundation’s lawsuit said. “She chose to forego all such commercial opportunities.”

The author of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” used Thermador cooking appliances in her television show, and her Thermador oven is also on display at the Smithsonian Insititution.

“These uses do not state or imply any endorsement by Ms. Child of Thermador products,” the countersuit said. “Rather ... 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.”

Child, a longtime Cambridge resident, died in 2004.

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