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Levy v. Kosher Overseers Assoc. of America, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
104 F.3d 38 (1997)


Rabbi Don Yoel Levy and Eliezer Levy (Levy) (plaintiff) own and operate a company that certified certain food manufacturers as kosher for use by Jewish individuals. Levy, one of many kosher certifying organizations, had its own unique mark that it placed on food products it certified as kosher. Each organization employs its own unique standards for what constitutes a kosher product, so it is important for consumers to understand which organization certifies a given food product. Kosher marks are protected by trademark law and are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Levy held a trademark for its mark since 1965. The Kosher Overseers Association of America (KOA) (defendant) sought to register its own kosher marking in 1989 with the Patent and Trademark Office. Levy contested the application, arguing that KOA’s mark was too similar to Levy’s. The Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) heard the matter and, after comparing the two marks, refused to register KOA’s mark. Following the TTAB’s holding, KOA continued to use the mark on products it certified. Levy sued KOA in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking to permanently enjoin KOA from using the mark. Levy argued that the use of such a mark would constitute trademark infringement. Levy moved for summary judgment, arguing that the TTAB decision constituted collateral estoppel. The district court agreed and granted a permanent injunction on KOA. KOA appealed.

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