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Eat more kale! I've been saying this for months now, but a Vermont folk artist has taken this belief to a whole new level. Three years ago Vermonter Bo Muller-Moore filed an application to register the mark "EAT MORE KALE". Since then, he's received nothing but beef from Chick-fil-A. Though Muller-Moore says he uses the phrase to promote local agriculture, Chick-fil-A sent Muller-Moore a cease and desist letter demanding that Muller-Moore stop using the phrase because it is confusingly similar to "eat mor chikin." To strengthen its demand, Chick-fil-A listed 30 examples of third parties who previously tried to use the "eat more" phrase, but ceased after Chick-fil-A objected. Apparently they chickened out.
This is somewhat of a David and Goliath victory for Muller-Moore. When the first office action issued from the Trademark Office over three years ago, the Trademark Office did not cite any of Chick-fil-A's "EAT MOR CHIKIN" registrations against the application. Chick-fil-A has six registrations of the word mark and design mark "EAT MOR CHIKIN" for use in connection with both restaurant services and clothing. Chick-fil-A got its feathers in a bunch over this and filed a letter of protest with the Trademark Office. The Trademark Office then issued another office action, citing the Chick-fil-A "EAT MOR CHIKIN" registrations as a bar to registration on the basis of likelihood of confusion.
Muller-Moore enlisted the help of pro-bono lawyers, including law students from a legal clinic at the University of New Hampshire law school, and was ultimately able to overcome the refusal to register "EAT MORE KALE". Muller-Moore's team convinced the Trademark Office that "EAT MORE KALE" was not, in fact, likely to cause confusion with "EAT MOR CHIKIN". After a three year battle, the Trademark Office issued a Notice of Allowance for "EAT MORE KALE."
Muller-Moore took to social media to celebrate his victory. Over the past three years, Muller-Moore also won the support of state officials, including Governor Peter Shumlin. Last Friday, Governor Shumlin spoke outside the Vermont Statehouse and said, "This is more than just about a victory for 'eat more kale. It's a victory for grow local. It's a victory for Vermont's small food and farm agricultural renaissance, and it's a victory for Vermont." Muller-Moore added that Chick-fil-A's legal battle may have been somewhat of a blessing in disguise in helping him grow his business. Now, Muller-Moore sells between 10-15 t-shirts a day. It looks to me like business is growing even more for him; I checked out his website eatmorekale.com and the EAT MORE KALE yoga mat and smoothie container are both sold out. I did see that they have a DRINK MORE KALE t-shirt, which you all know is right up my alley. I think I'll be purchasing a few DRINK MORE KALE t-shirts for Christmas gifts. You too can get your EAT MORE KALE merchandise at eatmorekale.com.
In case you're interested in learning more about this dispute, check out this video from 2011 where Gov. Shumlin launched the TEAM KALE campaign to support Muller-Moore's trademark:
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