Chick-fil-A Seeks to Intimidate Vermont Artist

I'm confused. Is this man holding a chiken?

File this one under “You’ve Got to Kidding.” The nation’s second-largest purveyor of fast food cluckers, Chick-fil-A, has filed a violation-of-trademark lawsuit against Vermont artist Bo Muller-Moore for his t-shirt designs emblazoned with the phrase “Eat More Kale.” Huh? Well you might ask.

Muller-Moore has been selling hand-designed shirts exhorting folks to devour more brassica oleracea since 2000, which he sells for $10 a pop. Somehow or other the Louisville, Kentucky-based megacorp Chick-fil-A thinks that Muller-Moore is violating their trademarked slogan “Eat Mor Chikin.” Their suit contends that Muller-Moore’s phrase “is likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A’s intellectual property and diminishes its value.” A professional satirist couldn’t come up with better than that!

Where to start? Can three misspelled words even constitute “intellectual” property? Dilutes their “distinctiveness?” Have you ever heard of a person ordering chicken in a restaurant only to throw his hands up in the air when the food came and exclaim, “Oh no! I thought chicken was that vegetable from the cabbage family that’s high in beta carotene and is especially excellent in colcannon.” Just who in the public is likely to confuse a leafy green vegetable with a beaked, egg-laying fowl? I suppose it’s possible that the kind of person who’s dumb enough to think chicken is spelled “c-h-i-k-i-n” or that fillet is spelled “fil-A” might think so, but even that seems a stretch. But at least it’s more—or should I say mor?—plausible than thinking Muller-Moore is any sort of economic threat. I mean, this guy moves product in the tens, not tons.

I can’t say that I’m a big fan of kale, but I’d learn to love it before I’d purchase anything from Chick-fil-A. How can one have confidence in a product sold by a company that makes one wonder if its marketing, PR, and legal departments have the collective IQ of a stalk of kale? We can only hope that there’s a judge somewhere with the courage to call this what it is: a frivolous lawsuit whose sole intent is to intimidate. And while the court is at it, one hopes the judge directs the Bar Association to consider revoking the license of the law firm that advised its client to file such a silly and expensive lawsuit. In a court system clogged by backlog we waste time on this? Maybe Chick-fil-A should spend some money to get abreast (get it?) of the First Amendment.

Here’s the Chick-fil-A contact page: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Connect/Contact-Us-CARES I suggest you write to the firm and express your views on this matter. They have a Facebook page as well.

If Muller-Moore loses his battle, our next step is clear: set up a legal fund that helps him acquire copyright control over the capital letter A and countersue.

1 comment:

Deb said...

great post Rob...the maple syrup company my sister owned in Vermont for 17 years, Highland Sugarworks, was threatened with a similar lawsuit by Log Cabin because one of the packages they sold their PURE 100% maple syrup in was a little glass "log cabin," and again, the bully claimed the public would be "confused" and think Highland's pure, natural, organic, healthy and expensive product just might be that grotesque corn syrup with caramel flavoring they serve up for a coupla bucks...yeah right! Log Cabin dropped the suit after my sister dragged them through the mud.