June 2018. MoMa, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, has locked horns with the recently-opened café-cum-art gallery MoMaCha, also in New York, accusing it of infringing its trademark rights.

Foto right: Benjamin Sutton, Hyperallergic

‘Not a museum’

The MoMaCha café is only a few miles away from the ‘real’ MoMa. Its owner, artist Eric Cahan, says he’s mystified by Moma’s objection. ‘Do they want us not to exist? They don’t own the word ‘cha,’ it means tea; … We’re not a museum!’ Cahan told the website Hyperallergic.


But MoMa has dug in its heels and sued MoMaCha in a New York court. MoMa claims the café is shamelessly attempting to benefit from its own globally famous MoMa brand.


It’s therefore highly likely that MoMaCha will soon be looking for a new name. If you call yourself by a name that’s very close to that of the world-famous MoMa, locate yourself around the corner from it and are also involved with art, you’re on a losing wicket. What’s more, MoMaCha is being slightly disingenuous: in January this year, it tried to register the word Moma as a trademark for tea, coffee and catering services. A survey conducted by Chiever revealed that on 12 April MoMa filed an opposition to that attempt too.