MOMACHA Responds to MoMA Lawsuit, Raises Stakes with Expansion

Posted on: May 30th, 2018 at 5:09 am by

March 2018

Down on the Bowery, a tiny tea shop has ruffled the feathers of the Museum of Modern Art.

MOMACHA, the months-old matcha cafe and “exhibition space,” opened with little fanfare at 312 Bowery, yet quickly attracted a legal response. MoMA filed a lawuit in Manhattan federal court in April, accusing the establishment 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.” The musuem seeks a preliminary inunction based on this alleged trademark infringement.

Cafe ownership, for its part, responded yesterday, stating that, “to obtain a preliminary injunction, the MoMA must show a likelihood of consumer confusion, and the MoMA has not made and cannot make this showing.”

When asked if there would be a name-change, owner Eric Cahan quipped that this wouldn’t happen.

From the mailbag:

MOMACHA is a café and exhibition space on the Lower East Side that combines matcha tea, sweet treats and interactive art. The name derives from the words “more” and “matcha,” which was inspired by the daughter of MOMACHA investor, Nev Shulman, who partnered with Eric Cahan and Graj + Gustavsen to launch MOMACHA back in March.

MOMACHA hit back at MoMA’s claims by stating that before registering ‘MOMACHA’, they retained an attorney who conducted a trademark search to ensure that the name did not conflict with any other registered trademarks and were advised the name did not pose any issue with the trademark rights of the MoMA. Moreover, MOMACHA stated that “the visual elements and content of MoMA’s marks are the same or strikingly similar to those of other marks used by contemporary art museums throughout the country,” such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami.

According to MOMACHA’s counsel, Christopher B. Spuches of Agentis PLLC, MOMACHA has “bent over backwards at considerable cost” to ensure there is no confusion between the café and museum. For example, MOMACHA has created two new logos, which have been applied to staff t-shirts, hats and bags, as well as on menus, cups, point-of-sale receipts, social media accounts and their website. Plus, they have put a message across all social media accounts notifying the public that it has no affiliation with the MoMA (i.e, “Not affiliated with the Museum of Art or any Museum.”)

It then raised the stakes by announcing an expansion that includes three additional locations citywide with different artists “on rotation.” Perhaps this whole stunt is a convoluted attempt at gaining publicity?

Recent Stories

‘Leekan Designs’ to Shutter Next Month After 3 Decades of Selling the Unique

After three decades peddling unique antiques to SoHo, and most recently, the Lower East Side, Leekan Designs is hanging it up. According to an announcement from the store earlier this week, the store at 4 Rivington Street will fold on March 3. Since the early 1980s, the business has traded in antique and contemporary (oftentimes […]

Essex Crossing KO’s Delancey Street Subway Entrance

Beginning next week, straphangers will do without the southeast entrance to the Delancey Street subway station (at Essex). The temporary closure is due to subterranean construction for Essex Crossing. According to the community notice posted to the stairwell by Site 2 contractor T.G. Nickel, access is restricted for 95 days starting February 27. The three-month […]

‘Supreme’ Takes Over Germania Bank Building on the Bowery

Supreme is now slinging skate fashion on the Bowery. The popular urban brand is temporarily holed up at the Germania Bank Building while its Lafayette Street flagship is upgraded. The move transpired within the last couple weeks, but the store officially reopens on the Bowery today. Supreme announced the news on its Instagram feed yesterday […]

Chinatown Dessert Shop ‘Bonsai Kakigori’ Announces Hell Square Push

A Chinatown dessert shop is branching out, and will soon open a satellite in Hell Square. Bonsai Kakigori recently taped teaser signage to the windows of 100 Stanton Street, former home of the popular El Rey cafe. This Hell Square location is the first foray into brick-and-mortar for the company, which currently operates at the […]

Five Years Vacant, Preserve 24 Space Gets a 99-Cent Pizzeria

With a fully renovated property at the corner of East Houston and Allen Streets, landlord-developer Serge Hoyda already added two new food groups – gyros and pizza. The 99-cent pizza place, situated around the corner from Rosario’s and Una Pizza Napoletana, takes a bite out of floor area previously occupied by Preserve 24. The takeout […]