Eye on IP
Vol. No. 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Trademark Litigation: Are You Team Chicken or Team Kale?
If you haven't yet heard, a David and Goliath-type trademark dispute has social media abuzz. The clash pits fast-food company Chick-fil-A against a Vermont folk artist named Bo Muller-Moore.
The trademark dispute began when Muller-Moore recently applied to trademark his phrase "Eat More Kale." He hand-screens t-shirts with the slogan, which are sold in Vermont and across the country via his website, eatmorekale.com.
Earlier this fall, Chick-fil-A sent Muller-Moore a cease and desist letter, telling him to stop using the phrase "Eat More Kale" and to turn over the website eatmorekale.com to them. The fast food giant argues it's too similar to the company's already trademarked "Eat Mor Chickn" phrase.
Specifically, Chick-fil-A contends that the "Eat More Kale" slogan is "likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A's intellectual property and diminishes its value."
Meanwhile, Muller-Moore contends that the issues of dilution and confusion aren't applicable in this case. As noted by his attorney, "There's no one out there that's going to come forward and say, 'I thought I was buying a Chick-fil-A product but I got this T-shirt.' "
One of the most interesting aspects of this trademark dispute is the role of social media, which has allowed Muller-Moore to galvanize support. As noted by a recent Forbes article, the hash tag #eatmorekale has become prominent on Twitter. On Facebook, thousand of fans have flocked to the Eat More Kale page to offer support.
Change.org also created an online petition that has already received close to 20,000 of the 25,000 signatures it needs. The petition asks Chick-fil-A to "please quit blocking EATMOREKALE.COM's federal trademark application."
While the media attention and social media support have clearly been good for Muller-Moore's business, it will be interesting to see what effect, if any, it has on Chick-fil-A's legal position.
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