Judge Rules Against Merkos on Logo Infringement

On Monday, a Federal Judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, led by Rabbi Yehudah Krinsky, against Vaad L’Hafotzas Sichos, led by Rabbi Zalman Chanin, seeking injunctive relief for the Vaad’s unauthorized use of the Kehot logo on volumes of Likutei Sichos and other publications.

In his ruling, issued on Monday, July 25, Senior Judge for the Eastern District of New York Frederic Block wrote that although Merkos does have the absolute trademark ownership of the Kehot logo, and that Vaad’s use of the logo on its publications was improper, nevertheless the court is compelled to dismiss Merkos’ lawsuit seeking injunctive relief due to the “doctrine of laches.”

Laches is the legal doctrine that an injunctive claim will not be allowed if there was a long delay in asserting the right or claim by the plaintiff against the defendant.

This court ruling reaffirms a similar ruling by the same judge back in January of 2016, in which, following a four-day bench trial, the Court determined that “Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch’s trademark-infringement claim failed because Vaad L’Hafotzas Sichos’s use of the Kehot logo did not result in a likelihood of consumer confusion, and even if it did, Merkos’s claim was barred by the doctrine of laches.”

Merkos then sought to amend that ruling through appeal, which was rejected by Judge Block in Monday’s ruling.

Previously, in October of 2015, Judge Block dismissed claims of copyright infringement and unfair competition which were brought against Merkos by the Vaad, ruling that Merkos’ trademark of the Kehot logo was valid.

Notable in that twenty-six page ruling were these words by Judge Block: “For the third time, the Court is called upon to adjudicate an aspect of the seemingly never-ending dispute precipitated by the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson,” and “Even a matter as final as death is a subject of debate in the Lubavitcher community, with some holding the “heartfelt belief that, notwithstanding his physical passing in 1994, the Rebbe still lives.””

See the full text of the ruling below:

27-07-2016-00-02-49-131

26 Comments

  • 1. About Time wrote:

    Maybe Rabbi Krinsky get rid of all the Mecharchery riv sitting in his office

  • 2. Anonymous wrote:

    How many years did they wait to sue? Wondering how they quaified for laches

  • 3. Judge Block wrote:

    If I read this right, in this ruling the judge reversed his earlier finding that the ownership of the Kehos Logo by Kehos was weak.
    In this new ruling he reversed himself and stated that the ownership of the Kehos logo is unquestionable. This is a blow to Vaad who claimed that the Kehos logo is just a symbol certifying a book as Lubavitch related and of good quality.
    This also strengthens Kehos’ hand against any others who may ilegally use their logo.

    • 4. Reply to Judge Block wrote:

      You write that “This is a blow to Vaad who claimed that the Kehos logo is just a symbol certifying a book as Lubavitch related and of good quality.”

      If I am not mistaking Vaad’s claim to the kehot logo was and is that the Rebbe himself told the Vaad to place the Kehot logo on all the books they publish and that not Merkos and not Krinsky have the power to take that away from them.

      Merkos and Krinsky however told the Judge that now after Gimmel Tammuz the Rebbe’s words are no longer relevant and that they have the power to overturn the Rebbe’s decision.

    • 6. Milhouse wrote:

      “Original”, why do you lie, when anyone can read the decision and see for themselves that you are lying? Chazal say הרוצה לשקר ירחיק עדותו; you should heed their advice.

      Anyone who reads the decision can see that the judge found for Merkos on the substantive issue, and would have awarded them damages if they’d brought the suit in time. They were batlonim and left it too late to sue; that doesn’t make Vaad right.

  • 7. So much money wasted wrote:

    So much money was wasted on these court cases, meanwhile because of this, the following books are out of print by Kehos:
    Likkutei Sichos,
    Lessons in Tanya – both sizes
    The English Siddur – both sizes
    Seems like Kehos really has put their priorities first.

    Thanks Merkos!

    • 9. Yossi A wrote:

      What a beautiful clip just in time for the 3 weeks!!!!
      MAKE THE REBBE & KOVOD LUBAVITCH great again!!!!!!!!

  • 10. Yosi wrote:

    How much money was spent on lawyers & court costs for a futile effort to maintain power
    How many new Shluchim were denied seed money to start their Shlichus because of these costs

  • 11. Din Torah wrote:

    The case never should have been brought in Federal Court to begin with.

  • 12. The is a boss wrote:

    Stop wasting money on court if only both sides would use the funds to print more seforim moshiach would have been here a while ago!

  • 13. Baruch Hashem. wrote:

    Merkos and Kehos need to understand that these court cases make a big chilul Hashem and Chilul Shem Lubavitch. They should focus on positive things and stop trying to monopolize Lubavitch according to their views, (which also gives them absolute power).

  • 14. Yankel Todres wrote:

    I”m starting to get confused. If even the Rebbe’s Mosdos take each other to court instead of a Bais Din, what happened to Chumash and Rashi. I thought that the holy Torah says that it’s Ossur (and can easily lead to a Chillul Hashem C”V) to take a Jew to a civil court. When did we adopt such a cavalier attitude where a Chillul Hashem may be involved!

  • 15. c.b. wrote:

    b’h

    Pity that the messenger is more important than the message.
    The money can be put to much better use – to promote the Rebbe’s teachings (the message) rather than to promote the ego of the powers that be (the messenger).

  • 16. stay focused wrote:

    let’s start focusing on what’s actually written in the sefarim and not just the logos on the outside.

  • 17. Now I know wrote:

    Why I can,t get an English hardback siddur. If anyone has a spare, I need one to teach someone Tefillos Chabad. I tried everywhere, in Israel as well.

    I am a supporter of Merkos and Aguch, but between this and the Eruv we are once again in the news for all the wrong reasons. Enough already. Let Chanin do what he wants, we all know about him and his family. Let them win the battle, they’ll never win the war.

  • 18. Sms wrote:

    Wowow money money money. Where is peoples ahavas yisroel?? Isn’t that what the Rebbe wanted?
    Seriously stop putting your energy into stupid courtcases that waste so many people’s valuable time which could be used for good!!!

  • 20. What does this mean? wrote:

    Only VLS can print Sichos? Or Kehos and VLS can both print Sichos legally?

    • 21. Milhouse wrote:

      It’s got nothing to do with sichos. Nobody can use the Kehos shtempl without Merkos’s permission, but they left it too late to sue Vaad. They asked the judge to waive the delay and give them damages anyway, but their case wasn’t strong enough for that.

  • 22. CHLEAKS wrote:

    They lost because THEY made this a religious issue. They should have stuck to plain and clear copy right laws.

    • 23. Milhouse wrote:

      Wrong. It had nothign to do with any religious issue. Nor has it got anything to do with copyright. It’s a straight trademark case, and was decided exactly like any other tradmark case.

      Remember that the purpose of trademark law is not to protect the owners but the customers, who are entitled to know from whom they are buying. Thus the likelihood of consumer confusion is a major factor in trademark decisions.

    • 25. Milhouse wrote:

      Oh really? Why don’t you explain how I’m off base, with reference to the decision which is linked above, and to the other decisions in this series.

  • 26. DOnt understand wrote:

    THe Kehos logo on the vaad sichos is enough of confusion. If you see the logo you automatically assume its from Kehos. If you see a coke logo on a cola, you would assume the name.

    Why didnt the judge see that?

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