An unexpected e-mail in the inbox today: A cease-and-desist letter (PDF) from the king of kosher wines, Manischewitz, ordering a takedown of the Mazal Tov Cocktail logo, pictured below, which they claim implies a “negative association” with their trademark.
“It is important to understand, however,” write Manischewitz’s attorneys, “that we are not communicating this letter because of any political affiliation or viewpoint of our client or because of any need by them or us to comment on or otherwise constrain the free expression of others, including the free speech of MAZALTOVCOCKTAIL.COM.”
Eh, well, I do think that threatening to sue me for employing a Jewish cultural icon within a piece of original art displayed in a strictly non-commercial setting constitutes a constraint upon my free speech. Andy Warhol, for example, reproduced Campbell’s soup cans, Coke bottles and boxes of Brillo scouring pads as a comment on the popular iconic status of these corporate symbols. The Manischewitz bottle, as it stands, is an icon much in the same respect.
I, for one, am incredibly wary of intellecutal property claims when directed at artists engaged in collage, such as in this case. It serves no purpose other than to comprimise artistic freedom as the art itself rarely poses a substantial threat to the copyright holder. In fact, the negative publicity generated by attacking artists often does more damage to the copyright holder’s reputation than the artwork itself ever could. On this occassion, Manischewitz stands to appear both petty and humourless.
For shame, Manischewitz. Henceforth, it’s only Streit’s matzos for me.