Manischewitz Nastygram for Mazal Tov Cocktail

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.

53 thoughts on “Manischewitz Nastygram for Mazal Tov Cocktail

  1. Kind of poopy of them. Fair use or not, I can see why it would catch their attention. Their concern is a testament to the power of the image you’ve created.
    Make clear the site isn’t affiliated with Jewschool if you don’t intentd for it to be, as Jewschool is commercial inasmuch as it has advertisers.
    So use Sabra or Dr. Brown’s instead?

  2. Is this finally gonna be the impetus to actually do something with the M-tov Cocktail name?
    For that matter, I can’t imagine why anyone outside of rural bumblefuck would buy non-chasidic matzah. Don’t you live in Jerusalem or something? Can one even manishevitz products there?

  3. Don’t know yosef. Last time I checked, matza made by misnagdim tasted just as good – and was just as kosher. Now, if the matza itself were chasidishe, you know, sang, dance, had payes, well in that case I would have to buy it.

  4. I’m with Yosef there – t’ain’t no Manischewitz Matzos in my makolet, nor Streit’s neither.
    But if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that Mobius knows his market – and you’re all out there in Golus. C’mon home, kids – Make Aliyah! Then if you can’t find your fav brand of matzos, you might be the market clout necessary to import it all the way from Brooklyn!

  5. i think Yehuda – from the Holy Land of Israel – has a much better crunch and holds up better over the week. Also, they come in whole wheat now.
    On a slightly different note, Manischewitz won’t ignite – perhaps Slivovitz is a better choice?

  6. Regardless of the legal issues, which seem fair — you’re using a protected image, the name “Mazal Tov Cocktail,” is pretty hokey. Why connect a Jewish icon to violence? It discredits the “radicalism” of your message and it’s not really cool in any way. Just an opinion.

  7. with all due respect, Mobius, this isn’t a case of an artist “engaged in collage.”
    its a logo.
    its one thing to use a picture of manischewitz in a piece of visual art that exists for its own sake. but this is a piece of visual art that exists to represent a project.
    you’re right that they may be shooting themselves in the foot PR-wise by going after little old you, but its their trademark, and they have a right to protect it.

  8. It would be funny if a new right-wing website went up, named, say, “Jewskool”, with an all-too-familiar-looking logo design. I bet we’d be hearing more about “theft” and less about “free speech”. (But on the upside, at least there’d be no need to draft a cease and desist e-mail from scratch.)

  9. many of you are missing the main thrust of my position: manischewitz has transcended its status as a mere brand-name to become a jewish cultural icon. it is not just a trademark, it is a symbol of jewishness.
    j: jewschool is not a jewish cultural icon. it does not have even remotely the same level of recognition as manischewitz, which has been cited, for example, by lauryn hill in her song “the final hour.” and really, i have to wonder — why do you persist to visit jewschool, other than to be nasty to people?

  10. Mobius:
    1) OK, so if Jewschool ever does reach iconic status (and gets mentioned in a song by a band even cooler than Lauryn Hill), would you have no problem with a right-wing “Jewskool”?
    2) Maybe you should read your own writing with a critical eye. I’m sure you think that your own nastiness is justified as against your targets, but you are in no position to complain about nastiness per se. And I don’t see how my above posting, which certainly was critical, was in any way a breach of the etiquette established by you, or in fact actually nasty. And can you honestly say that the entire content of what I write is nastiness? I present arguments – and if you can’t address them, maybe you should reconsider your views.

  11. Check out the “fair use” exemption for parody:
    Warning: It’s not unlimited, and I am not a lwayer.
    Personally, I think Maneschewitz is being foolish in persuing this, even if their case is better than I think. I mean, is your parody really going to cut into the sale of their cough syrup?
    If you can afford it, I would recommend consulting with a lawyer.

  12. Hey wait – didn’t something like that already happen – some Jews for Jesus site opened up using the name and imagery very similar to Jewschools and Mobius threatened to sue. Yes, sue.
    See posts I smell legal problems and whistling dixie for a refresher.
    Plus, Maneschewitz has only been a cultural icon since HEEB.

  13. J, you are making a poor comparison. Mobius didn’t open up a wine label called Mannishwewitz or some other spelling similar to the original.
    In one case, the person has taken a brand name and used it symbolically to represent a cultural outlook. In this case the new use doesn’t compete in any way with the old use.
    In your hypothetical case (Jewskool) someone would take a brand logo and used it, without permission, as the symbol of a competing product.

  14. Mobius,
    I suspect your argument as to the fairness of using the Manischewitz trademark in the proposed context is ultimately – if marginally – correct, though your reasoning is off from a legal perspective. Specifically, there’s no way the Manischewitz name has become so generic that it is not – and should not – qualify for protection under federal trademark law, as can happen, and frequently has, with such formerly protected brand names as aspirin, escalator, cellophane and linoleum. Instead, the issue would likely turn on whether the proposed Jewschool use is intended to further a commercial purpose, or is a parody protected under the fair use doctrine.
    More importantly, I disagree profoundly with your implication that J’s comments were in any way gratuitously abusive, or that he shouldn’t be participating in Jewschool discussions. First of all, he’s right; you’re often every bit as nasty as he is to those with whom you disagree (as, of course, am I.) Additionally, I’m quite sure J will attest to the fact that there is no one here who rejects his views with the consistency and passion that I do; indeed, I know J is wrong before I even bother to read his comments. Nonetheless, he has never engaged in an hominem attack or presented his position in anything less than a completely honorable and dignified manner. His is precisely the kind of opposition that forces me to refine my own arguments and keeps blogs like this one from becoming forums for dull, self-congratulatory knob-polishing. His continued participation elevates the level of discourse among the Jewschool readership, and I’d think those who run the site would be grateful for his participation.

  15. David Smith,
    With no provocation other than my criticism of Bush for his hypocritical intimacy with the Butchers of Saud, J called me “sleazy.”
    His insult made me cry myself to sleep for weeks on end.
    He’s also called someone a “fraud” for interpreting the Torah in a creative way.
    Other than that, though, I like the way he writes. Before his personal attacks, I actually enjoyed debating him. He doesn’t seem like a bad person at all.
    Besides, I enjoy sparring with conservative cheerleaders who have to make so many ethical and logical contortions to continue slurping the Bush Administration’s Kool Aid that they resemble one of de Kooning’s most perplexing visions.
    It’s fun stuff.

  16. zt-
    You are correct. In my hypothetical, I was going for impact rather than for an exact match.
    david smith-
    If I positively acknowledged your post, how would that impact your statement “I know J is wrong before I even bother to read his comments”? 🙂 Gotta get some Excedrin.
    Having a selective memory day? Why don’t you show us the actual reason I called you “sleazy”? If I recall correctly, I did that because of your penchant for dishonest arguing – trying to conceal some of the relevant facts when you are aware of those facts. Which you just did, again. And wasn’t that you who awhile back tried to prove a point by quoting Dick Cheney, when the exact words he said just prior to what you quoted indicated the exact opposite?

  17. J,
    Lover, sinner, friend. No. You were upset in the Saudi argument because I criticized Bush whereas you argued that Clinton et al did the same thing — i.e., cozy up to the butchers. My reply was that, as conservatives have told us ad nauseum, 9/11 changed everything, and therefore Bush’s penchant for Saudi snuggles should have been tempered in light of what the Saudi ideology, resources and, literally, countrymen perpetrated against our country.
    It certainly wasn’t sleazy, and I wasn’t hiding anything — except my bitter, drenching tears at hearing your accusation.
    That’s the thing, though — you assume and insist that those who are arguing against you are deliberately concealing facts from you, when in reality they simply have a different interpretation of those facts, or a different perception of whether those facts are relevant to the issue we’re discussing. To wit: Clinton’s embrace of the Saudis was bad, but not nearly as bad as a President embracing them after 9/11. (You get that, right? I’m not drawing you a timeline b/c I can’t draw on the Internets.)
    I don’t think that was me who quoted Cheney like that, but I’ll stand corrected if you supply a link. I honestly (or, in your opinion, sleazily) don’t remember that one. Link it, love!

  18. I feel obligated to assist for an intervention.
    Like me, you were astounded that EV in that infamous post did not recognize oil as the true culprit for so much that is wrong with Middle East foreign policy, and domestic energy policy. Truth be told, J, I was shocked EV didn’t know as well, but EV is not alone; this critical and fundamental issue (OIL) eludes many otherwise intelligent and educated people. Even on this blog, perhaps only Ruby K and Mobius truly understand this point.
    If we allow for that here, EV was not his usual exceptional self, then your declaration that EV was “sleazy” was misunderstood, and hurtful.
    J, I think in the future, it would be better for you to explain why oil consumption is so problematic to our country and our world, and why the U.S. government needs to take drastic measure (including massive R & D projects) to remedy the situation, and not lash out in your understandable frustration that people mistake this core problem for partisan politics.
    EV, don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, I didn’t understand the full magnitude of the role of oil! They don’t report this stuff in the mainstream media, and the Lefties babble on and on about “the environment” generally, and so I thought it was some hippy thing. Now I do understand, but I wasn’t being sleazy!”

  19. laya, your post was held because it had two links in it, which forces it to enter the moderation queue.
    and with true jewschool in mind — again, look at the section crossed out and the followup from cory @ boingboing. likelihood of confusion with a competitor is the issue. i’m not selling kosher swill. i’m parodying a jewish icon. and no, manischewitz was a jewish icon long before heeb.
    see: “man oh manischewitz.”

  20. Hold on, Intervention Man. I absolutely understand the venal role oil plays in American and world affairs, and it infuriates me that oil is the reason Bush, and Clinton, and everybody, are so quick to hop into bed with people who want us dead. (In Bush’s case, it should be said, the intoxicating allure of oil is not merely political but personal, as his family and friends have made millions off it) Saying oil controls us is like saying “Money drives politics in America.” This is a truism.
    But that’s not what the post in question was about. Rather, it focused on a specific travesty that needed stating in light of Bush’s “leadership” in the “War on Terror”: Why didn’t Bush use our special relationship with the butchers to at least get them to change their anti-Semitic ways in the aftermath of 9/11? Saying “Clinton did it too, it was the oil” is off topic. Saying I’m unethical for not bringing that up is off-topic two steps removed.
    My point was: if we have to fellate the butchers, at least let’s get something in return.
    But let’s argue some more!

  21. You see, J? EV wants to address the symptom without tackling the disease. Like so many, he is deluded that this is possible.
    We are taught this by the media. Do you not see all the car commercials on all the major networks? And that doesn’t even address the oil industry itself.
    EV is not sleazy. EV is a disinformation victim of the oil and auto industry.

  22. DK-
    If you really want to intervene, tell EV to stop coming on to me like that. I mean, really. He hasn’t even asked for pictures. Do we really know each other well enough?
    Anyone have a link to that post? I think it’s obvious that I’ve seen dozens of things here far more offensive than criticism of Bush for his handling of the Saudis (which in fact I share, to an extent!) without calling anyone anything. I don’t remember all the details, but what prompted my remark was probably the initial presentation, which, like much propaganda, made it seem as if Bush’s behavior was unprecedented (the opposite of the truth), and didn’t present the “post 9-11” argument until afterward. And this was hardly the first offense. When you report a story about self-defense, you don’t lead with “A shot B” and then wait for someone to complain about it before you add “…in response to B’s pointing a gun in A’s face”.
    As for the oil issue, well, yeah. Tell you what – I’ll agree to the funding of massive R&D and you agree to allow (more) oil drilling in
    Alaska and elsewhere. Maybe one day we’ll all have the pleasure of watching the Saudis become suddenly unable to get their phone calls returned, kind of like former child actors in Hollywood.

  23. Just read through the old post. Um, where did I call anyone sleazy?
    And it’s good to see that DK has scaled back his solutions to the oil problem. R&D is good; massive government restrictions on vast sectors of our economy, not so good. And not necessary.

  24. not necessary huh? they need to pump plumes of smoke into the sky has apparently become more important the our need to breathe. did you happen to notice the lack of polar ice caps? rising water levels mean people on waterfronts moving inland looking for food, housing and work. what happens when there ain’t room enough for everyone? i look forward to the strong economic future.

  25. I have not scaled back anything. I have begun to accept that things are so out of control that no single program, no matter how “restrictive,” can sufficiently curb our addiction.
    Obviously, car ads need to be banned on tv and in magazines. Creating a further demand for cars is the last thing we need. Can we all agree on that? Having said that, I realize that many people will not be willing to live without a car at this time.
    What we can do is have less cars, though. Not that this will solve the energy crisis alone, but it is all part of a multi-pronged attempt to solve this terrible, destructive addiction.
    Oil is National Heroin

  26. EV-
    Am I the only one seeing the irony in that the post you linked to doesn’t contain any postings by me calling you “sleazy”?
    Mobius says
    “they need to pump plumes of smoke into the sky has apparently become more important the our need to breathe.”
    THEIR need? (I assume you meant “their”.) Excuse me? Only “their? Do you use any of the products and services that result from that smoke? I bet you do. It’s not “their” need. It’s OUR need. And let’s not discount the good our robust economy does, even putting aside arguably frivolous luxuries. Have you taken a look at lifespans lately?
    As for the rising water levels, have you checked the rate of land loss over time? Your grandchildren will still enjoy your beachfront property. This is a long-term concern. It’s not a reason to cripple the economy.
    Not that there aren’t real environmental concerns. But we aren’t facing the apocalypse just yet. There are reasonable tradeoffs to be made. Ever looked at “The Skeptical Environmentalist”?
    Before you try to restrict cars, shouldn’t you factor in the economic good that cars do? And you might want to consider that raising the cost of cars (which is what would result) would disproportionately disadvantage the poor and lower middle class.

  27. J,
    I want to restrict single housing and build densely instead, and create rail, bus, and van alternatives, in addition to all the other approaches to getting off oil we must attempt and research.
    I do not believe that simply hiking and taxing all cars is the answer. I am saying that judging by New York, at least more people — particularly single people –would opt to live without cars if they felt this was a real option.
    This is not an option for the vast majority of people in the U.S. Tragically, working class and middle class people are often forced to spend a much more significant amount of disposable income servicing their transportation needs.

  28. “Tragically, working class and middle class people are often forced to spend a much more significant amount of disposable income servicing their transportation needs.”
    This isn’t tragic. It’s an incredible blessing. In medieval times the poor were close to their work because they were serfs to the landholder. Later on, people were tied to their family farms or business because they couldn’t commute to do other work. Still later on, people lived in company towns, or right near the grimy factories they worked in. Now, even poor people can afford to live relatively far from their work, or can choose work relatively far from their residence. It aint all bad, y’know.

  29. Sorry, J Love, your “sleazy” ad hominem was actually here, not in the Riyadh post. Your Riyadh comments just called me “dishonest,” but coming after the “sleazy” accusation, I guess I conflated the two in what would become an endless nightmare of self-doubt and mounting suicidal despair.
    But let’s look at the actual source of your “sleazy” attack. I was baiting and taunting you, as I am wont to do, for committing the very abuse you incessantly accuse your opponents of perpetrating here on Jschool: simplistic generalizations in the service of specious reasoning. In this case, you equated “progressive” with “anti-Israel.” For the sake of argument, I stepped into your shoes (it was a rather tight fit, and the high heels were somewhat wobbly) and made the same kinds of imbecilic generalizations, showing that such reasoning can more easily be used to annihilate the conservative position in the “War on Terror.” All the while, though, the point was to help you understand that generalizations can be used to support any position. See, J? I’m just here to help you.
    But instead of raising the white flag, sending me an apology gift basket and conceding the logical inanity of your argument and the pointlessness of partisan generalizations, you insisted on taking the generalizations at face value and called me “sleazy.” Twice.
    See, you weren’t “sleazy” for equating progressive with anti-Israel. I was “sleazy” for upending your logic.
    But perhaps you were just off your prescriptions that week.
    Ad Hominemly,

  30. J,
    I don’t know if you are raising the bar quite high enough by setting it according to the norms of the medieval ages. Of course, we live in a country where the Bankruptcy Law — based on the medieval notion of setting a man free of his debts after seven years — was considered insufficiently punitive and (most importantly) profitable, so you have a point. Maybe that should be the bar on economic matters.
    But in reality, the only place we disagree here is the option of how people get from point A to point B.

  31. I would urge anyone interested to read through the items EV linked to. Then consider what he says just above. Keep in mind the actual arguments, not theblather. Sleazy, indeed. And by the way, shouldn’t someone of the lefty variety be taking offense to EV’s parody (I think) homoeroticism? Not that I mind; I’m used to all kinds of people coming on to me. But sorry, guy, I’m still with the (non-feminist) babes.

  32. DK-
    Just providing a little background, that’s all. Just remember that percentagewise, we don’t need a huge reduction in our oil consumption to reduce or end the Saudi problem (see our old discussion).

  33. If anything, Lefties would take offense at my putting you in high heels to indicate your weakness.
    As for our love, J, nobody can deny that. Not even you, with your deafening protestations that it is “sleazy.”
    We will not be torn asunder.

  34. J said,
    “at least EV only dates Jewish.”
    Oh, please. If by “Jewish” you mean any woman (and I mean ANY woman) wearing high-heels, than yeah, EV is real exclusive like that.

  35. If EV’s genitals are anything like those in his anti-semitic cartoon, then there is plenty of him to go around Or at least two of him.

  36. Balaam’s Donkey,
    I had to stand in front of the mirror for four friggin’ hours to get that cartoon done.
    Speaking of comix, did you hear the latest about the world’s most humble cartoonist? At least now the genius of Kurtzman and Crumb will appear on the walls undiluted…

  37. EV,
    I actually sat at a roundtable discussion at the Jewish Museum yesterday about the exhibit, with a bunch of really smart well-credentialed folks. And all I kept thinking was:
    “I wonder if these people have ever been to a goddamn comic book store?”

  38. Ha ha — I wasn’t at the discussion, but if it was anything like how I imagine it, I doubt they’ve ever step foot inside, say, here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.