Unilever vs. Judea and Samaria: Ben & Jerry’s battle heats up

“Ben & Jerry’s intends to continue to distribute and sell its products in all of Israel, except for the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” wrote an attorney for Unilever.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Unilever is threatening legal action against an Israeli NGO that registered the brand name “Judea and Samaria’s Ben & Jerry’s,” arguing that the use of the term is a copyright violation, the New York Post reported Monday.

After Unilever-owned ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would no longer offer its products in Judea and Samaria, Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin, which works to bankrupt terror groups and the BDS movement through the legal system and international courts, sprang into action.

Citing a U.S. law that states a company must do business in a particular area in order to retain its copyright, Shurat HaDin registered the company name “Judea and Samaria’s Ben & Jerry’s” at Israel’s copyright authority.

By stating that it would no longer offer its products in Judea and Samaria, Unilever lost its exclusive rights over the brand name in the region, Shurat HaDin argued.

“Unilever is no longer able to enforce its trademark in these areas. These are our new weapons and approaches in the war against BDS,” attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder of Shurat HaDin, told Israel Hayom.

“Anyone who stops selling his products in Israel will find that we have taken over his trademarks and rights. Ben & Jerry’s will regret the day they boycotted the State of Israel.”

But in a letter from Unilever sent to Shurat HaDin that was obtained by the Post on Monday, the industry titan warned that it would take the makers of any new ice cream using the Ben & Jerry’s name to court.

“Your allegation that Unilever has in any manner abandoned its trademark rights for Ben & Jerry’s is flawed on multiple grounds,” Unilever’s general counsel, Natalia Cavaliere, wrote.

“Ben & Jerry’s intends to continue to distribute and sell its products in all of Israel, except for the small geographic region of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and East Jerusalem,” the letter continued, adding that any use of the Ben & Jerry’s brand name is a “violation of our intellectual property rights.”

The warning from Ben & Jerry’s comes after Shurat HaDin floated promotional images for a potential new flavor called “Frozen Chosen People,” with packaging bearing the image of the father of Zionism, Theodore Herzl.