Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor
Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor iStock

A US judge on Monday appeared skeptical that Ben & Jerry's deserved an immediate injunction against its parent Unilever to restrict the marketing of its ice cream in Judea and Samaria, Reuters reported.

US District Judge Andrew Carter said at a court hearing in Manhattan that he was unsure Ben & Jerry's had shown it faced "imminent harm" following Unilever's June 29 sale of the ice cream maker's Israeli business to local licensee Avi Zinger.

On July 5, Ben & Jerry’s sued Unilever in a bid to block the sale of the Israeli business to Zinger, saying Unilever had guaranteed Ben & Jerry's the right to protect its brand when buying the company in 2000.

The sale would allow Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in Judea and Samaria, circumventing Ben & Jerry’s controversial boycott of Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, which caused an uproar last year.

Although the lawsuit also sought to stop the sale altogether, Monday's hearing focused on whether Ben & Jerry's deserved a temporary injunction barring Zinger from selling new or rebranded products, using its English language trademarks.

Ben & Jerry's lawyer Shahmeer Halepota said in court that Zinger could produce new products with the "exact opposite stance," causing consumer confusion.

"Instead of Peace Pops, you could make 'Tank Pops,'" Halepota said, and shoppers would see both walking down a grocery store aisle.

The judge did not immediately rule, but told a Ben & Jerry's lawyer: "I don't hear anything saying that there is anything imminent. It doesn't seem ... anything's going to happen in the next couple of weeks."

He did not say when he would rule.

Ben & Jerry's and Unilever last month tried to reach an out-of-court deal on the spat but notified a federal court last week they had failed to do so.