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MoMA Wins Trademark Battle Over ‘Almost Identical’ Café That Now Has To Rebrand
By Mikelle Leow, 07 Oct 2018
Image via MoMA
Back in April, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) brought an NYC café and gallery by the name of MoMaCha to the attention of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
MoMA has since been granted preliminary injunction against MoMaCha. The café has been ordered to stop all use of the trademarks ‘MOMA’ and ‘MOMACHA’, which it had filed while being aware of MoMA’s existence, the court surmised.
The court wrote that MoMaCha’s use of the trademarks would create “a likelihood of customer confusion” with the trademark of MoMA, which is also located in NYC.
Further, due to the nationwide recognition of the museum’s branding, the court found that MoMA would likely qualify for preliminary injunction over the claim of dilution.
According to US District Judge Louis Stanton, a continual use of MoMaCha’s trademarks could confuse consumers “when they see MoMaCha advertising, press coverage, retail products, and social media accounts.”
Not only was its name similar, but its black-and-white Helvetica logo was also “almost identical” to that of MoMA.
The court wrote, “It is more likely than not that MoMaCha intentionally copied the Museum’s mark in bad faith when it adopted its old logo… the marks are strikingly similar and almost identical in terms of the font style, coloring, and capitalization.”
In one instance, a social media user was wrongly believed into thinking that a cannabis-laced beverage from MoMaCha was associated with MoMA.
Morrison & Foerster, the law firm representing the museum, told DesignTAXI that an artist who had apparently found their work misappropriated by MoMaCha also contacted MoMA to point out similarities in the marks of both brands.
The court outlined that since both MoMA and MoMaCha display and sell modern art, as well as provide café and beverage services in art gallery settings, “the close proximity of the parties’ goods and services is likely to result in the belief that MoMaCha is connected with the Museum.”
Judge Stanton concluded, “Because the Museum has demonstrated irreparable harm, a likelihood of success on the merits, sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make them a fair ground for litigation, and that the balance of hardships tilts in its favor, the Museum is entitled to a preliminary injunction.”
MoMaCha has since dropped the ‘o’ in its name and rebranded to ‘MAMACHA’.
[via Morrison & Foerster and Ripp Media and Public Relations, cover image via MoMA]
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