Why did the kale cross the road? Probably to get away from a trademark infringement lawsuit.
Bo Muller-Moore, a Vermont-based t-shirt artist, is being sued and pursued by fast-food chain Chick-fil-A because of one of the phrases he uses on his shirts: "Eat More Kale." Chick-fil-A alleges that this is too close to the trademarked ad campaign they have used since 1995, "EAT MOR CHIKIN." (You know, the ads with the spelling-challenged cows urging folks to partake in poultry instead of beef.)
Despite the fact that most denizens of fast food joints probably don't know what kale is, and certainly wouldn't confuse the leafy green plant with fried chicken, Chick-fil-A says Muller-Moore's use of "Eat More" can lead to trademark dilution.
And the restaurant chain has precedent on its side: A lengthy letter sent to Muller-Moore by Chick-fil-A's attorney documents 30 other "Eat More" phrases that the restaurant has defended its trademark against, including "EAT MORE GOAT" and "EAT MORE BEER."
Though the lawsuit may seem pretty silly to non-lawyers, Chick-fil-A knows that if they don't protect their trademark, they might lose it. (Did you know that "butterscotch," "thermos," "heroin" and "zipper" all used to be trademarks? Our point exactly. They are now all "generic terms.")
And if Chick-fil-A fails to go after the little guys, then bigger competitors such as McDonald's would have grounds to infringe without as much fear of legal repercussions.
Still, seeing as Muller-Moore isn't actually in the fast-food business - or a food business of any sort, unless you count his volunteering for Meals On Wheels - one might wonder how successful the lawsuit against him will be.
"This is apples versus zebras," Muller-Moore said in an interview. "If I had a vegetable stand, if I had a sandwich shop, if I had a CSA and was delivering kale to people to eat it, it could potentially be a different story. But I am making hand-printed T-shirts sold online. They are making chicken sandwiches sold in person at stores. Is there any room for any small business from the bottom up, or can corporations just squash it all?"
Chick-fil-A demands that Muller-Moore cease and desist from using the phrase "Eat More Kale" and that he transfer ownership of the domain name eatmorekale.com to them.
Stay tuned to the Wealth of Ideas blog, where we'll be following this case until it is resolved (and not just because it makes us hungry).
This is ridiculous. It's like Facebook TM'ing all uses of the word "Face" (which the company has tried to do).