On July 25, attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, head of the Shurat HaDin NGO, announced that she had applied to the Registrar of Companies in Israel to register a new company called “Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in Judea and Samaria.” Under US law, Darshan-Leitner suggested, when the owners of a brand announce that they no longer operating said brand in a given area, they lose their trademark rights there. “Hence, Unilever is no longer able to enforce its trademark in Judea and Samaria,” declared the feisty lawyer who has fought the PLO, Iran, the Presbyterian Church, and Airbnb in court (and mostly won).
She added a totally unveiled threat: “Anyone who stops selling their products in Israel will find that we have taken over his trademarks and rights.”
Darshan-Leitner followed up with a lawyer’s letter to Unilever, informing the international conglomerate that under US law, their decision to waive the sale of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Judea and Samaria constitutes a waiver of their ownership of the Ben & Jerrys trademark in those areas and that by law Shurat HaDin will now become the legal owners of the brand name there.
Needless to say, Uniliver, which we’re given to understand also employs lawyers, on August 12 sent Darshan-Leitner a response lawyer’s letter (signed by one Natalia Cavaliere) that went: “Unilever unequivocally rejects all your assertions set forth therein including that Unilever has abandoned its trademark rights for Ben & Jerry’s in what you refer to as the Judea and Samaria region of Israel.”
Attorney Cavaliere warned: “Please note that we deem any use of the trademark or tradename Ben & Jerry’s to be a violation of our intellectual property rights,” concluding: “Finally, and most importantly, Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s reject completely and repudiate unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance. Anti-Semitism has no place in any society.”
The thing is, Shurat HaDin did not go into the “discrimination, intolerance, and anti-Semitism” thing. All they are claiming is that when you officially declare that you will no longer be selling your Ben & Jerry’s product in what we call “Judea and Samaria,” using this trademark there by definition does not constitute an infringement on your rights.
According to Darshan-Leitner, Shurat HaDin is in talks with several Israeli ice cream makers to produce Judea and Samaria’s Ben & Jerry’s Frozen Chosen People, and many more Zionist-inspired flavors. According to Leitner, the Israeli Registrar of Companies is expected to approve—or not—her newly acquired brand in a few weeks.