Ben & Jerry’s disavowed products sold under its brand in Israel after parent company Unilever formally moved to allow sales in West Bank settlements via a third party.
“Without the consent of Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board, Unilever has sold trademark rights to the Hebrew and Arabic language versions of the Ben & Jerry’s name to Blue & White Ice Cream Ltd,” according to a statement from the board.
The public confirmation from Ben & Jerry’s comes months after it filed a federal lawsuit against Unilever in hopes of stopping the sale to Israeli businessman Avi Zinger, who said he intended to use the same intellectual property to sell its products under Hebrew and Arabic labels while proposing renaming “Chunky Monkey” to the Biblical name for the West Bank in an interview with Haaretz.
“Blue & White Ice-Cream Ltd. is a completely separate and distinct entity from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. Any products sold by Blue & White Ice Cream Ltd. are uniquely its own and should not be confused with products produced and distributed by Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. Ben & Jerry’s has no ownership of, affiliation with, or economic interest in Blue & White Ice-Cream Ltd,” Ben & Jerry’s statement continued.
“Ben & Jerry’s position is clear: the sale of products bearing any Ben & Jerry’s insignia in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is against our values. Such sales are inconsistent with international law, fundamental human rights, and Ben & Jerry’s social mission,” it added.
Ben & Jerry’s would file an updated lawsuit accusing Unilever of “covertly” moving its trademarks that violated their merger agreement, only learning of the decades-old moves in court filings.
This is the latest chapter in the year-and-a-half saga kicked off by Ben & Jerry’s announcement that it would no longer sell ice cream in “occupied Palestinian territories.”
Amid lawsuits from pro-Israel legal organizations and a pressure campaign from the Israeli government and the U.S. Jewish establishment, Unilever committed to selling the brand’s Israeli business interests to Zinger’s company, then known as American Quality Products, Ltd., in turn prompting the lawsuit from Ben & Jerry’s.
“The ownership of the brand is different, but the Ben & Jerry’s product is no different to what’s been enjoyed in Israel for many years,” Unilever said in a statement reported by Bloomberg.
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