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Chick-fil-A threatens Vermont t-shirt maker over slogan

Credit: eatmorekale.com

Credit: eatmorekale.com

Associated Press is reporting today that Chick-fil-A is trying to prevent a Vermont folk artist and clothing producer, Bo Muller-Moore, from using the phrase “eat more kale” on a line of t-shirts he sells online. The article states:

“In a letter, a lawyer for Chick-fil-A said Muller-Moore’s effort to expand the use of his “eat more 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.” “

The article goes on to say that the Atlanta-based fast-food giant listed 30 instances in which it compelled others to stop using the “eat more …” construct in slogans and phrases.

Muller-Moore plans to fight. He told the AP, “Our plan is to not back down. This feels like David versus Goliath. I know what it’s like to protect what’s yours in business.”

55 comments Add your comment

Baltisraul

November 28th, 2011
5:19 pm

Chick-fil-A…….what happened to the high morals you always are spouting. Can’t let a little guy from Vermont make a few bucks?.. My suggestion; start opening on Sunday’s. You just lost the “high ground”!

Edward

November 28th, 2011
5:55 pm

I used to enjoy eating at Chick-Fil-A, but their corporate policies have totally destroyed any enjoyment of their products. I would drive out of my way to avoid eating at one of their restaurants.

Rodney

November 28th, 2011
7:15 pm

What I find offensive is the insinuation that we, the public, are too stupid to know that “Eat More Kale” is in no way related to “Eat Mor Chikin”. Boo on you, CFA.

Matt

November 28th, 2011
8:02 pm

So, just because this is the “little guy” he can take whatever he wants. I find it ironic that he is trying to copyright the slogan so no one else can use it, then launches a public assault on Chick-fil-A for defending the same idea they own but he is trying to steal. While it is natural to tend to want to defend the little guy, he is wrong and simply trying to steal something that is not his.

Steve

November 28th, 2011
8:29 pm

PLEASE, are you not yet another lawyer looking for some invite to exploit more Americans??? Maybe it’s your greed and lack of any moral obligation that has put us in this place we are now in. Sorry, no time this week to wash and wax your $100,000 dollar car/limo ((sorry), really))

IGotBupkis, Sailing the Economic Seas Betwixt Scylla And Charybdis

November 28th, 2011
8:38 pm

I sent them a nastygram, recommend others do, too. Nothing extreme, just point out how stupid and petty this makes them look, and vow to not eat at C-F-A for a long time if they don’t back down completely.

http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Connect/Contact-Us-CARES

IGotBupkis, Sailing the Economic Seas Betwixt Scylla And Charybdis

November 28th, 2011
8:40 pm

Matt, as far as I’m concerned, both have limited extensions of control. I would argue that C-F-A’s is limited to “mor” and “chikin”, while his is limited to “kale” alone. If either were tramping on the other in that context, then the complaint/issue would be legit. As-is, it’s not.

Matt

November 28th, 2011
9:11 pm

I’m not so sure bupkis. This is not the first time CFA has defended its idea. They have taken legal issue with other who have used “eat more and (insert food). Its the idea that CFA is making claims to. If everyone food seller did this, it would indeed diminish the “uniqueness” of CFA’s slogan. Additionally, this article does not tell the whole story. CFA send a cease and desist letter to this guy in 2006. He refused to back down and CFA apparently did not pursue it any further until the kale dude decided to copyright the idea. That is when CFA started to fight. If he would have just left it alone, I presume this would likely not be happening. I think he is wagering that he can take CFA’s idea by launching a public affairs war with them (which I admit he will probably be favored by most). However, this only makes him the bully. CFA is only trying to defend what they own and they are pushed into a no win scenario. Either capitulate to the kale guy, giving legal precedent to allow anyone else to capitalize on their idea, or protect what they own and take a PR beating. Neither is a good option. Ultimately, I hope they can settle something, but this guy is claiming the role of the victim but is far from it.

Jason

November 28th, 2011
9:37 pm

I can’t believe some of these comments, Matt is the only one making any real argument. Thank you for using logic and reason Matt and not simply appealing to certain emotions people may have about “big business”. I’d hate to imagine people starting an occupy chickfila movement.

Herman

November 28th, 2011
9:40 pm

I got so much stuff twirling around in my head right now. Eat more Kale, eat more chicken, or eat more pizza?

I'm Hungry

November 28th, 2011
9:43 pm

Who remembers the license plates that said “Eat More ‘Possum” ? Whose slogan was that? That hase been around since the 60’s; I know. Maybe THEY should sue CFA? CFA should give it a break. There is no way that this guy’s t-shirts are diminishing the value of their slogan. I imagine eating more kale is a much healthier idea than eating more CFA. BTW, I really like CFA. Oh yeah, I’m Hungry.

I'm Not So Hungry

November 28th, 2011
9:45 pm

Where is the Possum Industry? Oh yeah, there is no Possum Industry. How about Eat More Horse?

Eat More Information

November 28th, 2011
9:48 pm

To Matt Cathy: Leaving aside the basic fact that you don’t know the difference between a trademark and a copyright, you also appear to have a very limited understanding of trademark law. Trademark law is predicated upon the connection between a trademark/servicemark and its source of origin to prevent consumer confusion (among other things). CFA does not own the right to every permutation of “Eat More …” despite how rich and powerful they may be. What consumer would be confused by “Eat more kale” when CFA does not sell such a product in America and has no restaurants anywhere near Mr. Muller-Moore? Sadly, this is another case of overzealous lawyering by a large company to scare away small businesses who dare to use their sacred “Eat more” marks. As for claiming the role of victim, the only victims in this discussion are the people who have to trudge through your terrible grammar and logic.

AISHA

November 28th, 2011
9:48 pm

I LOVE YOU CHICK FIL A, NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS YOUR FOOD IS STILL THE BEST

Jason

November 28th, 2011
9:51 pm

@ Eat More Information… yes your ad hominem attack is much more logical

Eat More Information

November 28th, 2011
9:54 pm

@ Jason Cathy. I noticed that you didn’t dispute the substantive elements of my argument.

Choo Choo

November 28th, 2011
9:56 pm

Never liked the “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign in the first place. It’s stupid. So is “Eat More Kale.” Neither saying makes me want to.

Jason

November 28th, 2011
9:58 pm

@ Eat More Information… Challenge Accepted

Craziness

November 28th, 2011
10:09 pm

If this “poor little guy from Vermont” didn’t think that the slogans on his t-shirts resembled and might remind people of Chick-Fil-A’s slogan, he wouldn’t be using it. He didn’t try to use “I’m likin’ it” to rip off Mickey D’s or “Have It Any Way” for BK. If he had an original idea that was good, he has every right and protection under the law to prevent others from using it. Then he can sell as many of those lame t-shirts….products as he wants without fear of a corporate giant having one of their very well-paid attorneys contact him. If Chick-Fil-A sits back and allows every “entrepreneur” use what rightfully belongs to the company without compensation, it certainly diminishes the brand. What’s to stop anyone else from producing mugs, keychains, head bands, etc.?

Side note: For those of you who want Chick-Fil-A to fail – if you don’t like the food and/or the policy, it is within your right to eat somewhere else. Even being closed on Sunday, Chick-Fil-A’s profits far exceed their competitors. This is business. Why does the public make this stuff so personal? Relax!!…and to all a good night.

and bring back the "Peach Bowl"

November 28th, 2011
10:19 pm

While were bringing up stuff on CFA….Native Atlantan and I’m still mad as hell that you (CFA) took away the Peach Bowl and replaced with your own name. Corporate bigotry at it’s best! Where’s Truett when you need him?

Jason

November 28th, 2011
10:31 pm

@ Eat More Information, I was not attempting to say that your argument was completely without merit. I do think it is unwise to attack one’s logic by attacking them personally. Having said that I do think that CFA may be able to show that the defendant’s trademark was a “reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation” of the CFA’s registered mark, the use of which was “likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive,” which is considered necessary under the Lanham Act, to establish a cause of action for trademark infringement. I would suggest that it is reasonable that such confusion could in fact exist and that there is precedent for claims similar to the instant case. I am sure you are aware that actual confusion is not required, although it would certainly establish evidence in CFA’s favor. On the question of whether a likelihood of confusion exists, there are several factors that the trier of fact can consider of which I am guessing you are aware. I believe that this case is not nearly as frivolous as some are making it out to be, and it not unreasonable for this case to be brought before the trier of fact to resolve. The trier of fact can decide if the facts support of do not support such a claim. My real point was that it is not as cut and dry as some are making this seem.

Eat More Information

November 28th, 2011
10:32 pm

@ Craziness. There is very little, if anything, new under the sun. CFA has trademarked “EAT MOR CHIKIN” by purposefully misspelling the last two words in the mark. Mr. Muller-Moore has not similarly misspelled his mark by trying to register “EAT MOR CALE.” If CFA wishes to protect other versions of “EAT MOR [misspelled word(s)]” it has every right to file a trademark application provided it pays the not insignificant legal fees associated with those applications. Does any rational person believe that ONE company should have full ownership of the phrase “EAT MORE [word(s)]” for all trademark purposes?

Eat More Information

November 28th, 2011
10:36 pm

@ Jason. What an impressive cut and paste response! I’d love for this to go to litigation. It’d be a complete PR nightmare for CFA.

Amy Barnes

November 28th, 2011
10:47 pm

iRemember Apple’s iPhrases iFight…

iForgot who won, but iBelieve that people were freed to abuse at will.

iParody has been allowed for some time now, so CFA needs to back down.

Jason

November 28th, 2011
10:48 pm

@ Eat More Information, I would think you wouldn’t make another ad hominem attack, but alas I underestimated you.
I don’t purport to know everything about intellectual property; I am just a law student.
Having said that, if you’d like I can prepare a full memorandum for you to read at a minimum of 30 pages in length with a multitude of case law to support, and I’ll even throw in the bluebook cites so that you can look up the cases… Somehow I thought that was slightly inappropriate for a simple comment section on a blog.
To be fair, I do think having a law student litigate for someone as large as Chick-Fil-A would be a PR nightmare…Touché

Amy Barnes

November 28th, 2011
10:50 pm

iAbuse as referenced above refers to iParody uses, not iTheft of TM or Copyrights.

Courtney

November 28th, 2011
11:03 pm

@Edward – You’re a tool. They do not need your business since every Chick-fil-A I walk into is always packed. If you hate it then you should go to Burger King. They will make it your way.

Eat More Information

November 28th, 2011
11:04 pm

@ Jason. I think errors in grammar and logic would reflect negatively on any debater/writer and pointing out such errors are not ad hominem attacks. It is clear from your earlier comment that you cut and pasted your response, and I fail to understand how my response is a true ad hominem attack. Would you expect to receive a high grade if you were to submit a law exam with poor grammar and poor logic along with hastily cut and pasted sections from your notes or outline? I also never implied that you would be litigating for CFA. Also, let me guess, Georgia State or John Marshall?

Andrea

November 28th, 2011
11:10 pm

Chick-fil-a projects itself as this virtuous, good-to-everyone, “better than you” company, but with their overpriced food, making us beg at the counter for a refill in our drinks that is WAY over-filled with far too much ice in the first place (especially the lemonade) in already-insulated cups and their full-of-themselves, condescending executives who are not named “Cathy,” this corporate threat shows this company is as greedy and crooked as any other at its core.

Eat More of THIS, Chick-fil-a!

Jason

November 28th, 2011
11:16 pm

@ Eat More Information
You are right, I need to get back to studying so that I don’t use poor grammar and logic on my exams and hastily cut and paste from my outlines. I would not do well on exams doing that.
It’s actually UGA, but thanks for the words of encouragement…

Coby Bell

November 28th, 2011
11:19 pm

Those functionally illiterate Chick-fil-a Cows are clearly products of the Clayton County “Skool” System.

Truett Cathy is like Sam Walton, two hardworking, honest, virtuous men who started magnificent mega-companies from scratch that have since been run into the ground (relatively speaking) by greedy, overpaid ingrates and sleazy types who care more about $$$ than the customer.

My Pleasure? My @$##!

Over $9.00 for a “combo meal” consisting of small chicken sandwich, waffle fries & a diluted drink?!?

I’ll eat a bag of peanuts & soda from Quik-Trip instead. Thanks.

Wow

November 28th, 2011
11:39 pm

Wow — I eat at chik-fil-A from time to time. Never have I had to beg for anything, and when I ask for my lemonade or other beverage with “light ice” they provide it willingly with a smile and “my pleasure.” Now I am not a law student — but what makes this a must litigate case for CFA has less to do with their trademark than what he is trying to do. Recall they didn’t file suit until he initiated his attempt to “copyright” the slogan. This is IP hijacking at it’s finest — just like a domain pirate going on and buying up all the domains available with a popular business name attached and then extorting money to get them to transfer it to the legitimate business. Both are misappropriation of something that belongs to another — the domain name doesn’t but use of the business name embedded in the domain name certainly does. If CFA doesn’t file this and he was to be granted copyright BYA the next thing is he’d be sending CFA a cease and desist letter about misappropriating his copyrighted material.

Bottom line is if CFA wants to defend it’s IP it has no choice but to litigate to block this blatant attempt to pirate someone elses marketing IP. Scream for the little guy and blah blah blah…. It would be like saying it’s okay for someone else to use the slogan “It’s the real things” just because that generically applies to anything organic and has an extra “s” on it. I mean why would Coke be able to claim it all for their big bad selves… because they’ve been using it for years and it’s associated with their brand and company in 99% of people’s minds. That’s the way it works – get over it and come up with something more original. Those who have said CFA has to do this or set precedent that would make it impossible to overcome potentially down the road – spot on. Eviscerate CFA all you want — they are doing exactly what should be done.

Eat More Information

November 29th, 2011
12:11 am

@ Wow. Your name fits. Please educate yourself about the difference between a copyright and a trademark. They are entirely different legal concepts and are governed by significantly different principles. Your cybersquatting analogy is patently false. Mr. Muller-Moore is doing nothing of the sort with his EAT MORE KALE federal trademark application. He is actually using his mark in commerce and not looking for a payout from CFA. The marks at issue are clearly distinguishable in sight, sound, meaning, and commercial impression when considered in their entireties. Furthermore, Mr. Muller-Moore could not send a cease and desist letter to CFA and expect anything good to come of it because CFA has evidence of prior trademark use filed with the USPTO. Your Coke analogy is laughable. CFA is a savvy company and likely knows the impact of bad press.

Sandra

November 29th, 2011
12:11 am

This does not bother me. If CFA wants to go to court…fine. They loose.

Coby Bell

November 29th, 2011
12:23 am

Sandra,

They “loose?”

REALLY?

Jethro

November 29th, 2011
12:45 am

I believe if its determined to be an intellectual property then Chik-fi-la has a case just like someone trying to sell using a name recognition of a actor.

Rally

November 29th, 2011
1:23 am

I am of the mind that Chik Fil A has turned Greedy in a lot of aspects…whether not it is Christian to overprice their food and to market it to people living from paycheck to paycheck to me is not honest at best. They have found a great way to con people in believing a lie…because when you hear one of there employees say it is my pleasure reeks of total dishonesty to the human core because it is always not their pleasure at certain times…which is a forced response. There chicken patties cost .25 cent a patty there bread another .15cents and they charge 4.00 a pop without the combo is disingenuous at best but to say it’s because there closed on Sunday is no better than Benny Hinn providing fake miracles!

Kelly

November 29th, 2011
4:30 am

@Jason…. As a fellow Georgia alum, I want to say thank you. Your responses were well constructed and your argument done with class and intelligence. I read some of these responses and was completely exasperated. Your defense of CFA was appreciated and refreshing.

I live in Nicaragua with a few other native Atlantans, and it would be a lie to say that we didn’t talk about chickfila at least twice a week. For those of you attacking it and boycotting their “overpriced” menus, I can’t help but shake my head at you. Don’t you have bigger battles to fight? Chickfila gives back in so many ways to folks that so desperately need it. And are you really going to complain that they fill up your drink for you? Can we be that disillusioned as a society that we believe that maybe service of others really isn’t “their pleasure”? What a heart break.

Someone get a kid’s meal with two chicken strips in my honor tomorrow, ok?

FORMER Chick-fil-a Fanatic

November 29th, 2011
8:59 am

The Chick-fil-a of 2011 is NOT the Chick-fil-a of 1981 when Truett Cathy ran its day-to-day operations.

The Chick-fil-a of 2011 overprices its food.

The Chick-fil-a of 2011 waters down its beverage with over 3/4 of the cup filled with ice, especially their lemonade.

The Chick-fil-a of 2011 overpays its white-collar works who are smug, arrogant, condescending, self-righteous and superficial. Ever interact with a Chick-fil-a “executive” at a Chick-fil-a Bowl social to the Chick-fil-a LPGA event? You feel like you need to take a shower afterwards.

They don’t make men like Truett Cathy any longer.

Billie

November 29th, 2011
10:02 am

Hey, Truett: Got ethics?????

CAP

November 29th, 2011
2:11 pm

Chick-Fil-A has a right legal rights to the “Eat More” saying…..in my humble opionion! Chick-Fil-A is a great restaurant with a great product! I love it and go there alot! I feel welcome and respected when I walk in their restaurant….they talk to their customers in a professional manner! If they want to be closed on Sunday to worship, it is their right! Everyone needs to just lay off them because they are a successful business that knows their product and customer service! AT&T and some of the other conglomerants need to take a lesson from them!

FORMER Chick-fil-a Fanatic

November 29th, 2011
2:17 pm

CAP @ 2:11 pm,

Which Chick-fil-a franchise location(s) do you (or one of your friends/relatives) own?

bandchickfila

November 29th, 2011
3:55 pm

So what if Chick-Fila was sued by Fila because its brand was only seperated by a hyphen?
so much for the holy-roller chick-fila

ban-chick-fila

November 29th, 2011
3:59 pm

Interesting isnt it. I bet they would not be so petty. As a matter of fact, it too similar chick fila and FILA. I might confused when ordering a pair of shoes.

Edward

November 29th, 2011
3:59 pm

Courtney, you’re obviously lacking in any intelligence since you resort to childish name-calling. I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A because I do not like their policies. I *Do* take my business elsewhere. You can choose to be a childish, and most likely overweight, patron but I will enjoy my food without your nasty presence close by.

ban-chick-fila

November 29th, 2011
4:03 pm

EAT-MO-CHIC-N

I JUST COPYRIGHTED THIS PHRASE

Kev

November 29th, 2011
6:09 pm

“Chick-Fil-A has a right legal rights to the “Eat More” saying…..in my humble opionion! ”

No, they have the legal rights to the ‘Eat Mor’ (sic)… slogan.

AzCat

November 29th, 2011
9:54 pm

Over nine dollars for a combo meal?!? Must be a Buckhead franchise. The combos I purchase run six bucks and change. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good rant. ;-)

Sir Linsetry Kent

November 30th, 2011
1:07 am

This type of corporate bullying has to stop. “Eat more chicken” is not really protected as it is “merely descriptive” to use the US Trademark law, I they can sue someone who substitutes kale for chicken then they can sue someone who substitutes drink for eat. So a slogan ‘drink more milk” is suddenly actionable. I don’t think so. This guy should post the name of the butt head who signed the bogus letter so we can all talk to him, and file a class action suit on behalf of all those other folks they claim to have put out of business.

eatmorchckn

November 30th, 2011
4:04 am

Chik-Fil-A was the best up to now. Healthier meals, hence the price points, clean and pleasant restaurants, great service. Requesting ‘light ice’ may help,so what else is wrong with the food and the average staff member with whom we interact on a day-to-day basis. Wendys – Here’s the Beef.