Boy wears Spider Man kippa 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
These epic words led
Spider- Man to pursue a life of justice and fighting villains. But with
great power also comes the ability to sue the pants off of small businesses that
illegally use Spider- Man’s image on a crocheted kippa.
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
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.
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
Other kippa salesman on the pedestrian mall grudgingly
acknowledge he sells the most kippot and is the best-known name
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.
Ivtsan flatly denied that the lawsuit
was personally directed at Binyamin.
“This is one of many similar
cases... If they find illegal merchandise, they will tell us and we will sue
them. It’s not connected to Kippa Man or anyone else, it’s not anything
personal,” he said.
The court documents say that the problem of
unlicensed merchandise has become more widespread in Israel in recent
“Offenses against intellectual property have grown in dimension,
and are bringing serious damage to domestic trade as well as international
trade, and are requiring law enforcement agencies, including the court system,
to provide effective deterrents against this crime,” the court document
Binyamin has removed all of his Spider-Man kippot pending the
outcome of the lawsuit, though other stores have not.
But the message is
clear: kippa-crocheters, beware. Marvel’s superheroes are watching you.