Court Revokes Israel's Olympic Mascot Over Likeness to 1970s Hero

Olympic Committee ordered to destroy its cactus-shaped emblem, saying it bears an essential resemblance to 'Kishkashta,' a decades-old Educational TV puppet character.

The Olympic Committee of Israel was ordered Sunday to destroy "all the means used to create" its cactus-shaped mascot for this summer's Olympic Games in London, saying it bears an essential resemblance to "Kishkashta," an Educational TV character from the 1970s.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Gideon Ginat ordered the Olympic Committee to remove the mascot - called Shpitzik - from all its publications and Internet sites.


Educational TV sued the OCI, claiming infringement of copyright, pointing to the similarities between the two characters. Judge Ginat ruled that "this is far more than a 'humanization of a cactus,' it seems that the resemblance might be misleading ... In both cases the size of the head is disproportional, and that's true of his hands as well. The ears are designed in a similar way, as are the thorns." The judge added that even the green hue was "almost identical."

"At the end of the day is seems to me that the defendant seized a well-known character, added several marginal elements and gave it a new name, for its own needs," wrote Ginat.

The OCI was ordered to pay Educational TV NIS 50,000 to cover legal costs.


Last December Internet surfers chose Shpitzik as Israel's Olympic mascot, from five characters suggested by the OCI. Educational TV immediately pointed out the similarity to Kishkashta and offered some form of cooperation, but turned to legal action after the OCI refused, demanding an injunction forbidding the use of the character and NIS 500,000 in damages. Judge Ginat declined to grant compensation, on the grounds that the character had not yet actually been used.

Eldad Koblenz, Educational TV's director, told Haaretz: "We will continue to safeguard our cultural property."