Monday, February 02, 2015

Artist Gets The Upper Hand Against Fast-food Giant Chik-fil-A – With Kale

Who knew that kale could trigger legal action? It all started way back in 2000. Bo Muller-Moore is an artist located in Montpelier, Vermont. One of his farmer friend (who grows the leafy vegetable aka as kale known for its nutritional value) asked him to make three T-shirts for his family for $10 each. He did and the “eat more kale” caught on.

With approval of the farmer friend, Muller-Moore began putting it on clothing and bumper stickers. He has been using the phrase ever since to promote local agriculture. He prints the phrase in silk-screen on T-shirts and sweatshirts and also prints it on bumper stickers that are used all around Vermont and even in other states. In the summer of 2011, Muller-Moore decided to trademark the phrase.

Once fast-food giant Chik-fil-A learned about the filing, it sent Muller-Moore a letter telling him to stop using the phrase, claiming that it would confuse the public since the Chik-fil-A slogan is "eat mor chikin." The fast food giant cited 30 examples of other companies and individuals who wanted to the "eat more" phrase and withdrew it after Chik-fil-A objected.

In contrast to other before him, Muller-Moore did not cave in. He stated "In our case, we said we're not going to cease and desist until a federal judge tells us to and as far as the trademark goes, I never wavered from the idea that I deserved protection from copycat artists."

His public fight drew the support of Shumlin as well as a team of pro-bono lawyers, including law students from the University of New Hampshire legal clinic.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Muller-Moore his application to trademark "eat more kale".

Needless to say, the artist was over the moon, stating "I'd like to think that maybe some persistence and polite defiance, you know, and proving to them [the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] that we were in it for the long haul. If it took us a decade, we're going to fight for a decade."

Muller-Moore is not alone in relishing his David vs. Goliath victory. Governor Peter Shumlin for one applauds the decision. He stated: "The message is out: Don't mess with Vermont. And don't mess with Bo. This isn't just a win for the little guy who stands up to a corporate bully; it's a win for our state. In Vermont, we care about what's in our food, who grows it, and where it comes from."

(Image courtesy of Bo Muller Moore)

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