from the reality-is-infringement dept
Now, to add another ridiculous example, reader Eric Wisti writes in about The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts going up against BSH Home Appliances Corp., manufacturers of the Thermador oven line, for noting in marketing material that Child used their ovens on her popular television shows. It's an interesting case in that BSH allegedly used images of Child in their material, but this was again to demonstrate a historical fact.
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.The JCFGCA (Holy acronym, Batman!) sent a letter to BSH informing them that they have exclusive rights to Child's "name, image, likeness and celebrity identity" and that the marketing material and images the company put together infringed upon those rights. They are seeking an injuction and the always ambiguous 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."
The crux of the issue from the foundation appears to be that they think BSH's material implies an endorsement by Child, despite the chef being historically reluctant to endorse products in general. I'm a bit confused as to how acknowledging Child using a product equates to an endorsement of that product. I'm perhaps even more confused as to how someone who has been dead for eight years could suddenly begin endorsing anything at all anyway. It seems to me that the kind of person who would be swayed by an edorsement by Child likely is aware of her current incapacity to endorse... well, anything. The company's filing concurs:
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 material, it would appear, was used simply to state a historical fact. Using Child's image may fall into more of a grey area, but I would think historical facts are not subject to publicity rights.
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."
On the other hand: won't somebody think of the dead culinary artists!?!?!