The Park Slope Food Coop isn't too happy about the new Co-op in town: Barneys. The department store is slated to open on Atlantic Avenue this year, and general manager of the food coop, Joe Holtz says they have illegally coopted the word co-op! The misuse of the term is considered a violation of state law, and a misdemeanor could have the retail giant facing a fine of... 500 bucks.
Holtz told the Brooklyn Paper he hasn't decided if he'll pursue the matter, but noted "It’s a new thing having a co-op in Brooklyn that’s not a co-op. There is something wrong with that.” While that may be, one Barneys spokeswoman said, “The year 2010 will be our 25th anniversary since opening the co-op. We’ve been using this phrase for a long time.” But not as long as the food coop, which was founded in 1973!
So does the little guy have a case? Holtz pointed to the state’s Cooperative Corporations Law "that could possibly serve as a legal basis for a David v. Goliath showdown." It states that the term cooperative, or any abbreviation, cannot be used in a name "except by a corporation defined in this chapter. Any cooperative corporation may sue for an injunction against such prohibited use of the term.”
If you are left wondering why this is even an issue, Holtz claims it undermines their effort to brand the idea of cooperative shopping.