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Julia Child-Thermador Suit Will Be Heard In Calif.

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 8:17am
Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- A lawsuit over the use of Julia Child's name by the maker of Thermador ovens will be transferred to California, where a related lawsuit is pending, a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled Thursday.

The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts says BSH Home Appliances Corp. is using the late chef's name and image without permission. The company's advertising has included pictures of Child and referred to her use of Thermador products.

The Irvine, Calif.-based manufacturer says it's simply making a factual reference to Child's use of its high-end appliances.

BSH filed its lawsuit in Massachusetts in August, asking a judge to determine the rights of both sides. The foundation filed two lawsuits against BHS in California, one in state court in Santa Barbara, where the foundation is based, and the other in federal court in Los Angeles. The suits ask for an injunction to stop BSH from using Child's name and seek unspecified money damages.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court William Young granted a request from the foundation to transfer BSH's lawsuit to Los Angeles. Young said he may end up handling pre-trial matters in the case, but the case will be tried in California.

The cases center on the foundation's claim that it has exclusive ownership and control of Child's name, image, likeness and celebrity identity, as well as trademarks and copyrights related to her. The foundation alleges that BSH's use of her name and image constitutes copyright and trademark infringement.

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 says that does not imply any endorsement by Child. The company says its references are to Child's well-known use of Thermador products.

Child, who died in 2004, had a Thermador oven in her Cambridge kitchen, which is 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 lawsuits, the foundation said Child had many endorsement opportunities during her lengthy career, but she chose not to.

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