A lawsuit over Unilever’s sale of its Israel-based Ben & Jerry’s business to a licensee has been settled, according to Unilever.
Terms of the settlement were confidential, the CPG giant said in an email.
“Unilever is pleased to announce that the litigation with Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board has been resolved,” the company said in a statement.
Attorneys for Ben & Jerry’s did not respond to requests for comment and more information.
Ben & Jerry’s filed the lawsuit in federal court in July. The ice cream brand, which Unilever acquired in 2000, said the larger company’s decision to divest its Israel business “was made without the consent of Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board of Directors, the entity contractually empowered with protecting Ben & Jerry’s brand.”
The lawsuit says the initial merger agreement stipulated Unilever would consult with the ice cream brand’s board for decisions like this one.
Ben & Jerry’s filed for an injunction to stop Unilever from violating the terms of its merger and shareholders agreement “to preserve the status quo and protect the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has spent decades building.”
The decision stemmed from Ben & Jerry’s 2021 announcement that it would no longer allow its ice cream to be sold in the West Bank because it was “inconsistent with our values for our product to be present within an internationally recognised illegal occupation.”
The brand said it would not renew its license agreement with Israeli manufacturer and distributor American Quality Products when it was set to expire at the end of 2022, but would “remain in Israel through a different business arrangement.”
This summer, Unilever announced it would sell its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to AQP owner Avi Zinger. Through the arrangement, Ben & Jerry’s would be sold by its Hebrew and Arabic names under full ownership of AQP.
At the time, Unilever responded in media reports that the company had the right to enter into the arrangement and that the deal had already closed.
In August, U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter denied Ben & Jerry’s request for an injunction, ruling “purported harm is too speculative to constitute irreparable harm.”
A month later, Ben & Jerry’s amended its lawsuit, with company co-founder Ben Cohen arguing in an MSNBC interview that Unilever “usurped their authority” by going against the wishes of Ben & Jerry’s independent board by divesting the business.