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Lawsuit in California addresses intellectual property rights

Julia Child is a name that’s well known in culinary circles. But, culinary prowess aside, her name is also synonymous with business success. Child is so well known that the very use of her name could be considered an infringement on intellectual property rights. The maker of Thermador ovens has filed a lawsuit fighting for its right to use Child’s name. The case was recently transferred to California because of related lawsuits pending in the state.

Purportedly, BSH Home Appliances Corporation (the maker of Thermador ovens) is using Julia Child’s image and name without obtaining legal permission from the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Advertisements released by BSH make reference to Child and her use of Thermador ovens while also presenting the late chef’s image. Some believe this is an infringement on intellectual property rights.

BSH filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts requesting that the judge make a formal determination of the rights on both sides of the case. The company claims that it is simply stating a point of fact in mentioning that Child utilized DSH products. A federal judge chose to transfer the case to California, where Child’s foundation had filed two lawsuits against DSH. Both lawsuits, one in Santa Barbara and one in Los Angeles, request an injunction to prevent BSH from using the name while also seeking monetary damages.

Some matters of business law are very delicate. When it comes to intellectual property, business owners and product makers, as well as inventors and companies may find it daunting to protect themselves. In cases like this, the right legal knowledge can prove invaluable. Living in the technological age means that abuse of intellectual property rights can be seen in every media facet. The good news is that business owners both small and large do not have to face these issues alone.

Source: The Washington Post, “Lawsuit over oven maker’s use of Julia Child’s name will be heard in California,” Nov. 8, 2012

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