The Tel Aviv District Court ruled in favor of state-owned Israeli Educational Television in its legal battle against the Olympic Committee of Israel on Sunday. The court ruled that the Olympic committee engaged in copyright infringement when it created its new Olympic mascot, due to the fact that it too closely resembles the iconic image of “Kishkashta,” a talking cactus puppet made famous by the television network more than 35 years ago.
Several months ago the Olympic Committee announced it would be adopt the image of a cactus as part of its public relations campaign for the Israeli Olympic delegation to this summer’s 2012 Olympic games in London. It eventually unveiled a mascot named “Shpitzik” (“Thorny”), a cactus with eyes and a mouth. The educational network claimed the move was a violation of copyright laws as the Olympic mascot was so similar to Kishkashta that it could easily be mistaken for the iconic children’s character. The Tel Aviv District Court agreed with the educational network, and ruled in its favor, demanding that the Olympic Committee immediately desist from using Shpitzik as its mascot.
Presiding Judge Gideon Ginat held that “there is no escaping the fact that there exists a significant likeness between the cactus mascot commissioned by the defendant [the Olympic Committee of Israel] and Kishkashta.” In explaining the court’s decision, the judge wrote that in both cases the size of the mascot’s head is disproportionate to the rest of its body and hands, and that there were also “similarities in the design of the ears and the placement of the thorns.”
The judge added that the Olympic committee “took an well-known icon, adding minor elements, making little changes and providing it with new name.”
Ginat ordered the Olympic Committee of Israel to destroy the means used to create the image of Shpitzik and also ordered the committee to pay court costs in the amount of NIS 50,000 ($13,486). Since the image had yet to be used in the intended public relations campaign, the judge said he found no grounds to award punitive damages.