×

The Julia Child Foundation Files Lawsuit Against Airbnb for the Misappropriation of Julia Child’s Name

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., June 22, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts (“Foundation”) today filed a lawsuit for misappropriation of Rights of Publicity against Airbnb, Inc., and Dan Klores Communication, Inc. (“DKC”) in the Superior Court for the State of California in the County of Santa Barbara for damages yet to be determined.

The Foundation took action in response to a widespread Airbnb social media and promotional campaign in late May of this year advertising, marketing and promoting Airbnb, including a contest with the winner receiving a free night at La Pitchoune in Provence, France. Among other things, Airbnb promoted that the contest winner could “come stay in the former home of Julia Child”, and “comb over knick knacks in her kitchen exactly as she left them”, for the sole purpose of marketing and promoting Airbnb’s services. Airbnb and DKC falsely promoted that items in the La Pitchoune kitchen remain exactly as Julia left them despite the fact that Julia removed these items when she left La Pitchoune in 1992.

Prior to the launch of Airbnb’s La Pitchoune campaign, the Foundation adamantly and explicitly expressed to Airbnb that it maintains a clear policy about not using Julia’s name and likeness for commercial endorsements, just as Julia did during her lifetime. Nevertheless, Airbnb, with the support of its public relations firm DKC, created an extensive marketing campaign to promote its brand and sell its services without the Foundation’s permission.

“It’s astounding that despite the Foundation specifically telling Airbnb it would not grant permission for the use of Julia Child’s name in connection with their marketing and promotional campaign about La Pitchoune, that Airbnb would decide that an appropriate way to honor’s Julia’s legacy would be to use it for their own commercial gain. Given Julia’s long and public history about not doing endorsements, the Foundation saw no alternative but to pursue legal action to get Airbnb to stop misappropriating Julia’s name and legacy.” said Todd Schulkin, Executive Director, The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.

The Foundation is seeking damages commensurate with the substantial commercial value of Mrs. Child’s name, identity and persona. As a not-for-profit charitable Trust, the Foundation’s primary source of funding is royalties from Julia’s work. There are no heirs who stand to benefit from the Foundation’s actions. Any infringements negatively impact the Foundation’s ability to make grants to support other non-profit organizations in gastronomy and the culinary arts, as well as undermine its mission to protect Julia’s legacy.

“Simply put, no company has the right to use Mrs. Child’s name, image, likeness or persona for commercial purposes without the permission of the Foundation, a position made clear on the Foundation’s website and in prior lawsuits. We will continue to vigorously protect the legacy of this true American icon, and look forward to proceeding to trial in Santa Barbara, CA, Mrs. Child’s adopted hometown for the final years of her life,” said Jeffrey Abrams of Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP, the Foundation’s long-time outside counsel.

About The Julia Child Foundation

The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts was created by Julia in 1995 and became operational in 2004. Its mission is to honor and further Julia’s legacy, which centers on the importance of understanding where food comes from, what makes for good food, and the value of cooking. Headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, the Foundation is a non-profit which makes grants to support research in culinary history, scholarships for professional culinary training, internships in food writing as well as professional development and food literacy programs. Over the last decade, the Foundation has made more than $1.25 million in grants to other non-profits. In 2015, the Foundation created the Julia Child Award, presented in association with the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The annual Award honors an individual who has made a profound and significant difference in the way Americans cook, eat and drink and is accompanied by a $50,000 grant from the Foundation to a food-related non-profit selected by the recipient.

For more information about the Foundation and the Julia Child Award, please visit: www.juliachildfoundation.org and juliachildaward.com

CONTACT: The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts contact@juliachildfoundation.org (805) 308-1591

Source:The Julia Child Foundation