MoMA Sues Lower East Side Café and Arts Space over Trademark Infringement

The Museum of Modern Art in New York has filed a lawsuit against a newly opened green tea café called MoMACha, which also serves as an exhibition space, accusing the business of infringing on its trademark. MoMaCha opened on 314 Bowery earlier this month with a show by the Dallas-based artist Dan Lam.

According to the complaint, the “defendants’ willful intent here is clear as there is no possibility that they were not aware of MoMA or its famous MoMA mark . . . They are blatantly attempting to take advantage of the MoMA marks, which are unquestionably famous within the modern and contemporary art space, to promote their newly launched art gallery and café business—perhaps even hoping for some free publicity when MoMA inevitably takes additional steps to stop this blatant infringement.”

In response to the allegations, a spokesperson for MoMaCha said that the café is not trying to compete with the museum. “Our platform is a hybrid: matcha bar, flexible exhibition space, and all around community that is organically connected to the arts in countless ways but never have we represented ourselves as having any affiliation to the MoMA, nor are we interested in upholding the responsibility of such.”

However, the business’s logo looks remarkably similar to the museum’s, and MoMA is claiming that people have already been confused about the connection between the two spaces. According to Hyperallergic, MoMA sent MoMaCha a cease-and-desist letter in March, before the café opened its doors to the public, but co-owner Eric Cahan has no intention of changing its name. In the end, the lawsuit might be unnecessary since Cahan claims he had always planned to change the logo on a regular basis to reflect the space’s current programming.