MoMaCha, Mo’ Problems

After months of litigation, the Museum of Modern Art won its preliminary injunction against a new café and art gallery in New York’s Lower East Side, formerly known as MoMaCha. The space was founded by former MTV show “Catfish” creator, Nev Schulman, with his wife Laura Perlongo and photographer Eric Cahan.

The drama began in March 2018, before the café had even opened for business, when MoMA issued the café a cease-and-desist letter. In response, the café altered its logo to read on three lines of horizontal text with a more stencil-like font. However, the café continued to use the original logo on drink cups and on its social media profile. MoMA was not impressed. A lawsuit was officially filed in April, arguing that the name, logo, similar concept, and proximity of MoMaCha would confuse consumers and actively attempts to take advantage of the museum’s trademarks—possibly as an attempt to gain publicity.

On October 2, Judge Louis L. Stanton of United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the Museum, citing, “Without a preliminary injunction against MOMACHA, the Museum will suffer irreparable and unquantifiable harm to its reputation and good will.”

Several social media posts and comments from confused customers were used as evidence of MoMaCha’s infringement of intellectual property. Following the ruling, MoMaCha officially changed its logo once again and renamed itself MaMaCha.

The New York Times has now reported that the Museum of Modern Art sent another cease-and-desist letter regarding the new name.

“Changing the ‘O’ in MOMOCHA to an ‘A’ merely indicates your clients’ continued contempt for MoMA’s trademark rights,” the letter states. “Your clients’ decision to change to a mark of such an infringing nature will be done at their peril.”