Why Is a Fast Food Giant Suing a Pro-Kale T-Shirt Artist?

Bo Muller-Moore/Video screen capture

You wouldn't think that an artist hand-making t-shirts that promote organic produce out of his garage and a fast food giant would be fighting over a advertising slogan. Chick-fil-A, the "quick-service" restaurant with more than $3.5 billion in revenues in 2010 has taken legal action to stop Bo Muller-Moore from trademarking the phrase "Eat More Kale," claiming it infringes on their trademarked slogan, "Eat Mor Chikin."

It's odd that such a minor operation could ruffle the feathers of a nation-wide business, but in a letter, a Chick-fil-A lawyer argued that the pro-kale message “is likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A’s intellectual property and diminishes its value.”

© Chick-fil-A

I agree that the "Eat More Kale" shirts may well diminish the value of the chicken giant, but because people are inspired to eat healthier food with a smaller environmental impact, not because they are confusing the words "kale" and "chikin."

Muller-Moore is expanding his business to produce bumper stickers, hoodies and onesies. In addition to "Eat More Kale," he offers "Home-Grown," "Localvore," "Free-Range," "Foodie" and "Compost." He says that trademarking his expression is key to protecting his small, growing business from copycats.

The irony of Chick-fil-A's move is that it's garnered a lot of positive media attention for Muller-Moore, and given him the public relations edge in a David vs. Goliath battle. Judging from the note on his web site that says "Due to unusually high demand, please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery," business is booming. But it won't last if he loses the legal battle to use his phrase.

Want to help? Sign the petition calling for Chick-fil-A to stop bullying small business owners.

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Tags: Agriculture | Corporate Responsibility | Fruits & Vegetables | Local Food

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