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Baltimore, MD - Court: Company To Pay $300K for Using OU Certification Without Permission

Published on: September 11, 2008 08:47 PM
By: Maryland Daily Record
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Baltimore, MD - A Reisterstown-based spice company must pay a kosher certification agency $300,000 for using its distinctive symbol without permission.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake dealt harshly with The Wilder Spice Co., which also forged a “letter of certification” from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

The award is three times the statutory amount that Union Orthodox could have recovered for a non-willful trademark infringement, said David Butler, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys.
In addition, Blake awarded the Manhattan-based Orthodox Union — owner of the more than 80-year-old kosher certification mark, a capital “U” inside an “O” — $19,000 in attorneys’ fees.

“It was pretty serious activity, and the court took it seriously,” Butler said.

Wilder Foods Inc. President and CEO Robert D. Wilder, who founded the company with his mother, was out of the office today and did not return a call seeking comment.

When the suit was filed in November, a Wilder executive vice president called the dispute “a huge misunderstanding.” That executive, Danny Christofano, said today he left the company in April.

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Kosher agencies charge a fee to supervise or inspect a food company’s facilities to ensure that the food is manufactured in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. In exchange, the company may display the agency’s kosher symbol on its packaging, a privilege that can gain the company religious Jewish customers, as well as non-religious buyers who believe kosher products are made under stricter standards.

Christofano previously said the company’s raw materials are certified kosher, most of them by the Orthodox Union, and that some of Wilder’s own products are certified by a smaller supervision agency, EarthKosher.

Wilder put the OU symbol on some of its products by mistake because it did not understand “that we had to have permission” from the Orthodox Union to use the mark even if its suppliers’ products are kosher, Christofano said in November.
Christofano also said at the time that Wilder had stopped using the Orthodox Union’s mark and had offered to have the Orthodox Union inspect its facilities and certify its products.

However, the company never responded to the plaintiff’s allegations in court. “It seems to me that if they had a story to tell they probably should’ve told that to the court,” said Butler, of Bingham McCutchen LLP in Washington, D.C. “They obviously chose not to.”

In April, after Wilder failed to respond, Blake permanently enjoined it from using the OU mark and declared the case “exceptional,” which authorized the plaintiff to seek its legal costs and hinted at the multiplied damages.

“The court really had no choice in the circumstances,” Butler said of the ruling. “So while the result is significant, it’s not terribly surprising.”



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Read Comments (19)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 11, 2008 at 09:49 PM anonymous Says:

forget the o-u. what about the damage done to the kosher consumer, who bought their products thinking they had valid hashgocho??!!?!

2

 Sep 11, 2008 at 09:42 PM Anonymous Says:

Wilder put the OU symbol on some of its products by mistake because it did not understand “that we had to have permission” .....................................

What a thief! WOW. How does someone make a million dollar mistake ? Could it be because there was money to be made? Could it be?!!!!!!!

3

 Sep 11, 2008 at 10:07 PM neocon Says:

valid hashgacha??????
did u read 'bout how they teamed up with anti-semitic liberal goyim to throw a g-d fearing pious baal chesed (aaron rubashkin & family) under the bus????

i dont trust them anymore.

4

 Sep 11, 2008 at 10:32 PM Milhouse Says:

Anon of 9:42, it seems like an honest mistake. Would *you* know that if you buy an OU-certified product and repackage it, you can't put the OU on it? I understand why this is so, but one can't expect every manufacturer to understand it.

Anon of 9:49, no damage was done. The spices were kosher, certified by the OU. All that was missing was the OU's supervision over the repackaging.

5

 Sep 11, 2008 at 10:50 PM hamavin yovin Says:

neocon Says:
valid hashgacha??????
did u read 'bout how they teamed up with anti-semitic liberal goyim to throw a g-d fearing pious baal chesed (aaron rubashkin & family) under the bus????

i dont trust them anymore.
09-11-2008 - 10:07 PM
===========================================
A god fearing person does NOT:
1. treat workers unfairly
2. holds back payment goyish workers
3. hold back payment from shochtim and masgichim
4. force workers to buy junk cars for a premium prices.
5. withhold kashrus info from kashrus agencies
certifying them
6. cause tzar balei chaim.
7. act differently behindclosed doors thinking that no one is watching both in kashrus and moral areas.
8.keep kasrus labels in the delivery trucks to accomodate orders as needed.

should i go on??
6.
6.

6

 Sep 11, 2008 at 11:09 PM Anonymous Says:

you never know what else was packed on the same machines, so even if the products are OU the final product might not be kosher

7

 Sep 11, 2008 at 11:05 PM Anonymous Says:

The OU is a buisness and is allowed to protect itself.
you would do the same

8

 Sep 12, 2008 at 01:46 AM Kashrus Pro Says:

As far as them "not knowing" that it was a FEDERAL TRADEMARK.... Wilder has been in business for a long time and they knew about it good and well. They tried a CYA job that didnt work.

9

 Sep 12, 2008 at 01:45 AM Kashrus Pro Says:

Being that I know a little more about this than some other yoyos who have posted here i will add that the company had its oppertunity to in essence apologize a long time ago but for some reason they decided to fight the OU and.... BH they LOST!

10

 Sep 12, 2008 at 12:34 AM realist Says:

hamavin yovin SAID:

A god fearing person does NOT:
1. treat workers unfairly
2. holds back payment goyish workers
3. hold back payment from shochtim and masgichim
4. force workers to buy junk cars for a premium prices.
5. withhold kashrus info from kashrus agencies
certifying them
6. cause tzar balei chaim.
7. act differently behindclosed doors thinking that no one is watching both in kashrus and moral areas.
8.keep kasrus labels in the delivery trucks to accomodate orders as needed.

should i go on??
**************************************************

YES. YOU CAN GO ON; WE ALL HAVE B'CHIRA TO DO RIGHT OR WRONG. BUT BEFORE YOU CHOOSE LET ME JUST REMIND YOU; (to quote you!)
A god fearing person does NOT:
1. Engage in the kind of baseless rhetoric you do.
2. Believe every piece of gossip he hears or reads.
3. Take a frum person's parnassa in his hands.
4. Does not pass judgement as if he IS God.

BE ADVISED: Chaza"l teach us that our lives are like a 'galgal hachoizer'. Who is doing well today may not be doing all that well tomorrow.

Reb Aaron Rubashkin may not know why he is being put through tough times now; but when your troubles begin, you'll be able to point to your comment here as the cause.

SLEEP WELL.


11

 Sep 12, 2008 at 12:32 AM Elias Friedman Says:

neocon Says:
comments - arrow valid hashgacha??????
did u read 'bout how they teamed up with anti-semitic liberal goyim to throw a g-d fearing pious baal chesed (aaron rubashkin & family) under the bus????

i dont trust them anymore.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I'm sorry but you seem to have a funny standard of trust.

My personal opinion is that if someone was greedy enough to break federal laws, then it is very questionable whether they should be trusted with upholding kashrut standards.

OU was doing more than protecting itself, it was protecting the kosher consumer too. They did right by him in waiting until he was formally charged before demanding management changes or they would pull their hashgacha. They were under pressure from other groups to act earlier, but they were right to wait.

12

 Sep 12, 2008 at 12:18 AM political analyst Says:

many supermarkets are repackaging items like candies, nuts, pickles, salads, etc without supervision & are putting on the label the hashgoch of the original packaging. this is common practice with meat & poultry but at least it's usually under somewhat supervision. I'm not a fan of this repackaging business.

13

 Sep 12, 2008 at 07:34 AM The end Says:

The Wilder Spice Co., which also forged a “letter of certification”

14

 Sep 12, 2008 at 09:17 AM anonymous Says:

neocon Says:
valid hashgacha??????
did u read 'bout how they teamed up with anti-semitic liberal goyim to throw a g-d fearing pious baal chesed (aaron rubashkin & family) under the bus????

i dont trust them anymore.
09-11-2008 - 10:07 PM
******************************
THE RUBASHKIN LOONIES ARE AT IT AGAIN.

When they realize that the whole world does not revolve around them, then normalcy will come back.

15

 Sep 12, 2008 at 09:41 AM anonymous Says:

This ws a discussion on the OU, not Rubashkin. Since you started, then you deserve an answer.



YES. YOU CAN GO ON; WE ALL HAVE B'CHIRA TO DO RIGHT OR WRONG. BUT BEFORE YOU CHOOSE LET ME JUST REMIND YOU; (to quote you!)
A god fearing person does NOT:
1. Engage in the kind of baseless rhetoric you do.
*********************************************
Like telling us that the only 'glatt' meat is from Rubashkin. Like saying that their 'shechita munachas' is more superior than anyone else in the world.


2. Believe every piece of gossip he hears or reads.
******************************************
EVERY PIECE? like you believe whatyou read on this blog?





3. Take a frum person's parnassa in his hands.
************************************
Like Rubashkin did when he causd the butcher shops in Washington heights, Philadelphia, Phoenix to close up? Like what he did in Florida - lose money for years until the Empire distributerwent brome and many people lost their jobs?


4. Does not pass judgement as if he IS God.
****************************************
Why not? Look what you just did on us???



BE ADVISED: Chaza"l teach us that our lives are like a 'galgal hachoizer'. Who is doing well today may not be doing all that well tomorrow.
*******************************************
You got that right

16

 Sep 12, 2008 at 09:38 AM Anonymous Says:

Elias Friedman Says:
My personal opinion is that if someone was greedy enough to break federal laws, then it is very questionable whether they should be trusted with upholding kashrut standards
_________________________---
Your personal opinion is not halacha. Read Yoreh Deah Siman Beis.

17

 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Hamavin Yovin, I would love to go through all your dealings and see how rightous you are.

18

 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:43 AM hamavin yovin Says:

Anonymous Says:
Hamavin Yovin, I would love to go through all your dealings and see how rightous you are.
09-12-2008 - 10:23 AM
============================================== first go through your own then rubashkins and then lets compare notes . i have an extra 12 reams of copy paper . im sure you will need more

19

 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:52 AM ChulantBloozer Says:

Unfortunately the $ rules and everything else is secondary.

20

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