One Corporate Bully Down: Eat More Kale. Really. You Can Now.
A neat little story out of Vermont, where a hippie stencil artist and self-described "defiant dude" who makes maybe $40,000 a year selling Eat More Kale t-shirts just won a three-year trademark battle against fast-food giant Chik-fil-A - annual sales $4.6 billion, or nine sandwiches per second - which had argued that his slogan's “misappropriation of Chick-fil-A's EAT MOR CHIKIN intellectual property (is) likely to cause confusion” (though they failed to specify just how stoned you'd have to get to confuse eating a t-shirt with fake chicken.) Bo Muller-Moore had protested his t-shirts, sweatshirts et al, designed to promote local agriculture, pose no threat to the giant - who, besides, don't even spell "More" correctly.
In 2000, Muller-Moore made his first three Eat More Kale t-shirts for a farmer friend and his family - 10 bucks a pop - after a bumper kale year. After several years of making them out of his Montpelier garage, during which he has kept his day job at a bakery, he applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the phrase. Soon after, Chick-fil-A - which he'd never heard of - sent him a "Cease and Desist" letter - which he'd also never heard of - blocking his application, offering the "misappropriation" and "confusion" argument, demanding he stop making shirts, shut down his website, and send his entire inventory to their Atlanta headquarters to be destroyed, and proudly listing 30 other companies they'd likewise bullied into submission. Muller-Moore fought back, with the help of a team of pro-bono lawyers and the support of Gov. Peter Shumlin, and last week his trademark request was approved. He attributed his legal victory to "maybe some persistence, and polite defiance." Shumlin called it "a win for the little guy who stands up to a corporate bully...Don't mess with Vermont. And don't mess with Bo." Also, look for the (crowd-funded) movie, coming soon.