MoMaCha, the infamous café known for its lengthy legal battle with the Museum of Modern Art, is no more — at least not under that title. The café, noted for its CBD lattes and matcha drinks, will be known as MaMaCha after a court ruled the tearoom had infringed on MoMA’s trademark name and logo design.
The café and art gallery hybrid came under legal fire in April (its first month of business) from the museum giant after receiving an initial letter of cease and desist. MoMA accused the Lower East Side coffee shop of acting “with full knowledge of and intent to cause harm to MoMA,” saying the museum would suffer “harm to its name, reputation, and goodwill.”
MoMA accused MoMaCha’s name of hybridizing “MoMA” and “cha” (a term commonly known to mean tea), but the café said it was a condensation of the phrase “more matcha.”
After the initial accusations, the cafe changed its logo. Instead of using its original Helvetica font, which closely resembles the custom “MoMA Gothic,” it began using a stencil-like font to re-brand and distance itself from the museum in the wake of the trademark infringement allegations.
On September 28, US district judge for the Southern District of New York, Louis L. Stanton, issued a preliminary injunction against the café.
“The close proximity of the parties’ goods and services is likely to result in the belief that MOMACHA is connected with the museum,” the judge said, according to artnet News. “It is more likely than not that MOMACHA intentionally copied the Museum’s mark in bad faith when it adopted its old logo. It may later be rebutted, but on the present record it appears that MOMACHA’s similarity to the museum’s mark was not accidental, but purposive.”
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.