By Jessica DiNapoli and Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday rejected Ben & Jerry’s bid to block its parent company Unilever Plc from allowing its ice cream to be sold in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which Ben & Jerry’s says undermines to its values.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter in Manhattan said Ben & Jerry’s did not deserve an injunction to stop sales and marketing of ice cream because it failed to show it would suffer irreparable harm or that customers would be confused.
Ben & Jerry’s sued Unilever on July 5, saying the sale of its Israeli business to local licensee Avi Zinger violated the agreement under which Unilever bought the Burlington, Vermont-based company in 2000.
The sale came nearly a year after Ben & Jerry’s decided to end sales in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, saying it was ‘inconsistent’ with the values and social mission it reserved for itself. right to promote.
Unilever countered that Ben & Jerry’s had no authority to stop the sale of the Israeli business and that the sale could not be canceled because it had been closed at the end of June.
The unusual dispute shed light on Unilever’s aim to give its more than 400 brands social missions and objectives
Carter dismissed as “too speculative” the idea that customers would be confused if Zinger came up with new products carrying a message that might conflict with that of Ben & Jerry’s.
“Ben & Jerry’s has provided no evidence of such confusion or the impact of the alleged confusion,” Carter wrote.
The judge noted that products sold in the West Bank would use Hebrew and Arabic marks, not English marks.
Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Unilever’s brands also include Dove soap, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Vaseline skin lotion.
(Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)