The decision by ice-cream giant Ben & Jerry’s to pull its business beyond the Green Line means that under U.S. law its parent company, Unilever, has lost the right to protect the brand’s trademark in Judea and Samaria, the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center announced over the weekend.

The NGO said it plans to apply for trademark licensing of a similar brand under the name “Judea and Samaria’s Ben & Jerry’s,” with the explicit intent of rivaling the original.

Last week’s decision by Ben & Jerry’s, widely panned as a capitulation to the anti-Israeli BDS movement, was slammed by lawmakers from across the political spectrum, as well as by Jewish groups worldwide.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowed to fight the decision “aggressively,” saying “there are many ice-cream brands, but only one Jewish state. Ben & Jerry’s decided to brand itself as the anti-Israel ice cream. This decision is morally wrong and I believe that it will become clear that it is also commercially wrong.”

Unilever’s CEO Alan Jope stressed last week that the multinational consumer goods company, whose Israeli branch is among the five leading consumer products companies operating in the country, was “fully committed to our business in Israel.”

In a letter to Unilever, Shurat HaDin asserted that it plans to assert ownership of the brand in Judea and Samaria, citing U.S. legislation. Under U.S. law, the letter claims, in order for Unilever to preserve trademark protection for the Ben & Jerry’s brand name, it must demonstrate full intent to conduct business in a particular area. By announcing that the company does not intend to operate in Judea and Samaria, the British conglomerate has forfeited the right to claim said trademark as its own, the NGO argues.

“Unilever is no longer in a position to enforce its trademark in these areas,” said Shurat HaDin chief Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

“These are our new weapons and approach in the war against BDS: Anyone who stops selling their products in Israel will find that we have taken over their trademarks and rights. Ben & Jerry’s will regret the day they boycotted Israel,” she said.

Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project and co-founder of the End Jew Hatred movement, said last week that the sheer size of Unilever opens it up to possible significant financial penalties.

“By virtue of its wayward subsidiary, Unilever—a massive international conglomerate—risks potentially crushing financial consequences in terms of its ability to receive investments from, or do business with, the majority of U.S. states,” she said.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.


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