MoMA Files Lawsuit Against New Bowery Matcha Cafe ‘MoMaCha’

Posted on: April 20th, 2018 at 5:00 am by

With a name like MoMaCha, the new Bowery cafe was simply a lawsuit waiting to happen. And, not too surprisingly, it did.

The Museum of Modern Art – popularly abbreviated as MoMA – sued the new Lower East Side business this week. It filed a complaint in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, accusing MoMaCha of willfully “infringing its famous trademarked name and trade dress that date to at least 1967 and appear in exhibition communications, retail goods and its restaurant The Modern.”

MoMA also claims in the lawsuit that the cafe’s logo is too similar to its own.

“Defendants’ willful intent here is clear as there is no possibility that they were not aware of MoMA or its famous MOMA mark prior to starting their business earlier this month,” the museum stated in its complaint. “They are blatantly attempting to take advantage of the MOMA marks, which are unquestionably famous within the modern and contemporary art space, to promote their newly launched art gallery and café business — perhaps even hoping for some free publicity when MoMA inevitably takes additional steps to stop this blatant infringement.”

In response to the claim, MoMaCha said that the cafe is not a museum and doesn’t intend to compete with MoMA. Rather, it’s a purveyor of the powdered green tea, “matcha.”

“Our platform is a hybrid: matcha bar, flexible exhibition space, and all around community that is organically connected to the arts in countless ways but never have we represented ourselves as having any affiliation to the MoMA, nor are we interested in upholding the responsibility of such,” a rep from MoMaCha told Law 360 (subscription required). “We’re not only working with artists, we’re activating our space with set designers, pastry chefs, schools and all around people who have a story.”

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