Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s can not stop Unilever from selling its products in the Palestinian zone that is occupied by Israel, an American court has ruled. A further court case has already started.
No clear damage
The ice cream brand, well know for its idealism, had stopped selling its products in the Palestinian areas that Israel illegally occupies. However, Unilever – which has owned Ben & Jerry’s since 2000 – wanted to circumvent that decision by selling the rights to Ben & Jerry’s to a local licensee. The brand, that also infuriated some with its defence of LGBT rights and its support for Black Lives Matter, is now judged to be unable to prove it suffers from irreparable damages by Unilever’s move.
The decision not to sell in the illegal settlements, however, proved unpopular with some investors, who sold their Unilever shares or put pressure on the company to intervene. The next move in this extraordinary saga was the fact that Ben & Jerry’s then sued its owner, trying to block the transfer of know-how, recipes and packaging. In this court case, too, the ice cream brand has now failed to reach its aim.
Another court case now has to shed clarity on the question how far the independent members of the Ben & Jerry’s board can still go to protect their brand and their mission. Unilever had stated that the rebellious subsidiary was not even allowed to sue its owners, and would even have halted payments to the board members concerned.