Thursday, September 20, 2012

Battle of the Titans: Spider-Man Wins First Round Against Kippa Man

Photo by Marc Israel Sellem for The Jerusalem Post
We never thought it would come to this. As frequent visitors to Jerusalem, we thought the stores that sell kippot (otherwise known as yarmulkes) bearing superhero designs were a permanent and colorful part of the city's landscape, especially the part that lines both sides of the pedestrian mall on Ben-Yehuda Street.

This week it was revealed that the superheroes, represented by lawyers for Marvel Comics, have fired the first round in a battle to prevent the stores from selling the unlicensed skullcaps.

As Melanie Lidman wrote in The Jerusalem Post last week,
On Wednesday, Jerusalem’s landmark kippa store on the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall, Kippa Man, suddenly found itself caught in a web of drama worthy of Spider- Man’s twisted storylines.

Owner Avi Binyamin was informed that he is being sued by Marvel Comics for NIS 100,000 for selling unlicensed Spider-Man merchandise: Kippot with Spidey’s likeness.

On July 30, Marvel’s representatives in Israel visited the Kippa Man shop and
bought a Spider-Man kippa.

“A reasonable consumer could be fooled into thinking that the infringing product is manufactured and/or sold by the plaintiff with the knowledge and/or approval of the defendant,” the court document states.

Attorney Amir Ivtsan, a partner in the Ivtsan, Netzer, Wolecki & Co. law firm that has represented Marvel in Israel for the past decade, said any business in Israel suspected of selling illegal Marvel merchandise would be sued for NIS 100,000. He added that Marvel received information about Kippa Man specifically, which is why representatives visited his store.

Binyamin’s famous store is about two meters wide and four meters long, and stuffed full with colorful kippot. He sells only kippot and does a brisk business, with a steady stream of customers.

Other kippa salesman on the pedestrian mall grudgingly acknowledge he sells the most kippot and is the best-known name internationally.

Binyamin was dismayed to learn he was the subject of a lawsuit. “They make them in China, I just bring them,” a frustrated Binyamin said on Thursday.
“There are 20 stores on this street, they all sell the same thing,” he added. He hypothesized that they targeted his store because his name was well-known.

But Binyamin isn’t the only villain on Ben-Yehuda Street. If Marvel is looking for justice, there are dozens of shops that sell touristy knick-knacks and piles of kippot that feature popular superheroes, including Spider- Man. They also feature other registered trademarks, including Starbucks, Apple, Pringles, Superman, BMW, all the major football, basketball and soccer teams, and college mascots.

On Thursday, almost every store proudly displayed a Spider-Man kippa outside, and owners were shocked when informed of Marvel’s decision to sue Binyamin.

“It’s stupid, maybe they’re bored, or maybe they hate Jews,” said B., one store owner who refused to give her name. Others wondered if the lawsuit was some kind of personal vendetta since only one shop was targeted.


  1. "... maybe they hate Jews,”

    So, protecting your licensed merchandise via legal methods means you hate Jews. What a crock!

    And the kippot are made in China. Maybe Avi Binyamin and the other kippot sellers should consider demonstrating how much they LOVE Jews by buying and selling legal kippot made in Israel!

  2. Avi was targeted because he's the deep pocket, and/or because one of his competition ratted him out to Marvel in an attempt to get rid of him (which might be successful). I challenge you to find ANY store (outside of Geula, possibly) that doesn't sell exactly the same stuff. I don't think that Marvel is anti-Semitic, I think they're protecting their trademark. But targeting one store when you have to walk past ten more that sell EXACTLY the same thing to get there and deliver the complaint is unfair.