Orthodox Jewish Congregations Sue Food Company for Improper Kosher Certifications.

NEW YORK, July 22, 2009 -- The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America filed a federal lawsuit today against a New Jersey-based food company for certifying food items as kosher without authorization.

The complaint accuses Royal Food Distributors, LLC of trademark infringement, trademark dilutions, false designation of origin, and unfair competition on the grounds that they used the kosher certification mark, the letter U in a circle, without authorization.

A certification mark is a mark to certify regional or other origin, material, mode of manufacture, quality, accuracy, or other characteristics of such person’s goods or services or that the work or labor on the goods or services was performed by members of a union or other organization.

Certification marks can be registered as a trademark, which the Orthodox Union did in 1956 with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).

Royal Food entered into a written agreement with the Orthodox Union on April 10, 2008, allowing them to place the kosher certification mark on specifically identified food products. The agreement specifically stated the use of the certification mark, "[on any product] without the express permission of the Orthodox Union constitutes an infringement of the Orthodox Union's registered certification mark and subjects the user to liability for injunctive relief, damages and attorneys' fees."

On or about June 2, 2009, the Orthodox Union learned Royal Food was using the certification mark on products that were not approved. specifically Veronica Bianca branded cookies, crackers, and wafers in addition to Choice brand lemon juice.

According to the complain, the Orthodox Union may multiple requests to have the certification mark removed from the offending products and received no response from Royal Food.

Trademark infringement laws exist primarily to protect consumers from confusion about the source of goods or services, while the owner of the trademark actually recovers any monetary award or injunctive relief. Trademark dilution laws protect the "uniqueness" and the goodwill associated with a trademark as a property interest.

The Orthodox Union has been using the kosher certification mark on hundred of thousands of food marks since 1925. The word "kosher", meaning fit or proper in Hebrew, is used to describe food prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. Because of the complexity of kosher food laws and the inability of consumers to determine whether a food product is kosher, many people rely upon the certification marks of organizations like Orthodox Union when making purchasing decisions.

According to the complaint, a recent study determined there are more than estimated 8.5 million kosher consumers in the United States.

When a court finds a defendant intentionally counterfeited a registered trademark, the court must under the Lanham Act, enter judgment for three times the greater of the counterfeiters' profits or the plaintiff's damages together with a reasonable attorney’s fee unless the Plaintiff elects for statutory damages up to $1,000,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services.

Disclaimer & Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
© 2007 Brandwise Law Firm, P.C.