Leave it to one of the borough's most venerable institutions to strike the first major blow to Barneys Co-op's plans to expand into Brooklyn this September, by stating that Barneys' usage of the term "co-op" may actually be illegal.
Joe Holtz, the general manager of the members-only Park Slope Food Coop (famous both for its varied affordable produce as well as its left-leaning views), wrote a letter to The Brooklyn Paper this week stating that "Barney's [sic] misuse of the word dilutes this effort and effectively undermines our business model and, for lack of a better concept, 'brand."
As it turns out, the Park Sloop Food Coop may actually have a case, since, as Holtz points out, an old (and, as the paper points out, rather "antiquated") state law states that "The term 'cooperative'… or any abbreviation, variation or similitude thereof, shall not be used as, or in, a name except by a corporation defined in this chapter." The law then goes on to state that "any cooperative corporation may sue for an injunction against such prohibited use of the term."
Now, we must say that we're not necessarily sure that Barneys' use of the word necessarily "dilutes" the Park Soop Co-op's brand, and frankly, we're pretty excited that the major fashion brand is making its debut in Brooklyn, pretty much establishing that the borough is becoming a force to seriously rival Manhattan in terms of style. Plus, as a spokeswoman for Barneys told the paper, the Co-op has been around for 25 years as of 2010, and the name's been trademarked. That said, a lawyer told The Brooklyn Paper that "only a food co-op could bring this case," so even if the law seems old-fashioned and out of left field, it's there nonetheless.