The cactus-shaped mascot of the Israeli Olympic delegation bears too close a resemblance to a puppet from a 1970s television show and therefore must not be used, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled on Sunday.
The Olympic Committee of Israel must remove the character, named Shpitznik, from Internet sites and publications, must pay NIS 50,000 to the Educational TV station, and must destroy “all means used to create” the character, according to the ruling of Judge Gideon Ginat.
Educational TV filed the suit against the OCI in December, saying that the mascot was copied from its own character, Kishkashta. As intellectual property, the suit alleged, Kishkashta is subject to copyright and trademark laws.
In January, Ginat suggested a compromise in which the OCI would give credit to Educational TV for the character and the two sides would agree to mediation regarding revenue distribution. The Olympic committee rejected the compromise, claiming that Shpitznik bore no substantial similarity to Kishkashta.
On Sunday the judge disagreed, writing that the “defendant took a known and easily recognized character and made use of it by adding minor elements and changes, and giving it a different name…”
The cactus plant that is the inspiration for both characters is called in Hebrew the “sabra.” This is also the Hebrew term for a native-born Israeli, who is said to have a cactus-like prickly exterior and a sweet essence beneath the thorns.