Kosher Certification Agency Sues JetBlue for Labeling Snack as Kosher Without Consent
The New Jersey-based kosher certification agency Kof-K is suing JetBlue Airways for allegedly using its trademark to label an in-flight snack as certified kosher without its authorization.
In a lawsuit filed in New Jersey federal court on Thursday, Kof-K claimed that the New York-based airline used its certification mark on a packaged snack of marinated artichokes. Kof-K has not questioned the kosher status of the item, but said in the lawsuit that it never certified or approved the artichokes as kosher or gave the airline permission to use its marks.
Kof-K is suing the airline for trademark infringement, false designation of origin and deceptive trade practices, among other claims. It also accused JetBlue of committing consumer fraud under New Jersey law and violating the New Jersey Kosher Food Consumer Protection Act.
“Defendant’s unauthorized use of the Kof-K mark and/or trademark is intended to deceive consumers into believing the Defendant’s products are kosher pursuant to Kof-K’s standards,” the agency alleged in the suit.
The artichoke product in question is produced by Elma Farms and is part of a “Mediterranean-inspired” snack box offered by JetBlue that includes other items the airline said are certified kosher under the Orthodox Union, Kashruth Council of Canada or EarthKosher. Reuters reported on Friday that the JetBlue website claimed the Elma Farms artichoke snack is “Kosher certified by KOF-K Kosher Supervision,” but as of Monday, that designation has been removed from the website.
Elma Farms, which was not named in the lawsuit, said on its website that “most” of its snacks are certified kosher, except for three products that do not include the artichoke snack. The company does not specify which kosher certification agency it uses, although an apparent symbol of a Peruvian kashrut organization is displayed on the back label of the artichoke product.
Kof-K is requesting an unspecified amount of money damages, and asked the court to order JetBlue to pull the snacks and refrain from using its trademarks.
JetBlue said in a statement, “The recent complaint filed is the first we were made aware of Kof-K’s trademark concern. We are currently investigating their claims.”