Here is a small example of how kashrut agencies misrepresent kashrut. This alert from the Crown Heights-based OK, if not clarified by the editor of kashrut.com, would lead one to believe the restaurant in question is not kosher supervised, and that the restaurant management had done something very wrong – pretend to have kosher supervision when in fact it did not:
The following kashrus notice is from the OK dated January 4, 2006.
Please be advised that KOHN'S RESTAURANT in St Louis, MI is not under the OK Kosher supervision. This company is unauthorized.
Would you eat there even if you saw a different kosher symbol displayed? Probably not. Who's to say the new symbol is not forged as well. Ah! But we have the editor's note:
ed. note: Simon Kohn's Restaurant in St. Louis, MO is under the OV (The Vaad Hoeir of St. Louis).
What we appear to have is a community restaurant under the supervision of the community va'ad – just as it should be. Did Kohn's claim to have OK supervision? Most likely not. The alert probably results from confusion due to the similar symbols – OV vs. OK. And the OH certainly knew this before it issued an "alert" designed to damage Kohn's business. Why would the OK do this? To exert pressure on Kohn's to pay for OK supervision or to hurt the OV, which supervises salads and other products sold nationally, or both.
Unless Kohn's knowingly misused the OK symbol, what the OK did is a clear violation of halakha. In a better world, the OK would pay a price for this bad behavior. But this is not that world.
UPDATE: I spoke with Kohn's. They had menu boards up that used the following logo: K-O-H-N-S, with each letter surrounded by a circle. When a new menu was printed, the designer took the K with the circle and used it as part of the menu's logo, but did not use the other letters. What Kohn's did was inadvertently use the OK's symbol, and the OK has the legal right – and the responsibility – to defend its trademark.
That being said, the OK could have done this as it does for so many of its paying clients who inadvertently misuse the OK symbol – note the misuse as inadvertent and, in this case, note the restaurant is under other supervision. This would be the correct way – the halakhic way – to do this. But, as clearly seen above, the OK took the low road, and for that, it should be chastised.
UPDATE #2: Here is how a similar issue was handled by the Star-K:
The following change of certification is from the Star-K on January 4, 2006.
JEFF NATHAN EVENTS, located in Temple Beth El, New Rochelle, NY, has changed certification from the Star-K to the Vaad of Westchester.
The OK could have done something similar with Kohn's, noting the OK symbol was used in error, inadvertently, and pointing out Kohn's continues to be under the supervision of the OV.