US ice cream firm Ben & Jerry’s has reportedly taken further legal action against parent company Unilever over its business in Israel.
New agency Reuters said the Vermont-based business has filed an updated lawsuit in a US federal court claiming Unilever “covertly” moved its trademarks to a Unilever business unit in 2000 and 2001, a move which, it claims, violated the terms of their merger agreement.
That stemmed from the decision a year earlier by Ben & Jerry’s founders to end sales in what they called Occupied Palestinian Territory because it was “inconsistent with its values”.
That decision, taken independently from Unilever, created a backlash against both Ben & Jerry’s and its parent in Israel, with senior politicians there claiming it demonstrated anti-Israeli sentiment and anti-semitism.
In its updated lawsuit, lodged on Friday (30 September), Ben & Jerry’s said it only learned about its trademarks being moved from recent court filings. It is seeking damages and wants the trademarks returned. It has also asked a judge to stop Zinger from selling the ice cream in the West Bank.
Ben & Jerry’s originally filed a lawsuit against Unilever in July to try to block the sale of its business in Israel, arguing it violated the original merger and shareholder agreement.
In August, a judge rejected Ben & Jerry’s bid to immediately stop sales in the West Bank, saying the manufacturer did not show it would suffer irreparable harm.
Ben & Jerry’s launched a new challenge in September, seeking a planned amendment against Unilever’s sale.
When contacted by Just Food about its latest court filing, a Ben & Jerry’s spokesperson said it would not be “covertly” while legal proceedings are ongoing.
Just Food has also contacted Unilever seeking a response to Ben & Jerry’s latest move.