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Chikin v. Kale: A Tale Blown Out of Proportion.

December 21, 2011

Many publications are calling the Chick-fil-A lawsuit against Bo Muller-Moore, a T-shirt maker, a David and Goliath type tale. In my opinion, it’s because they know that most people like the underdog and they know they can tug on their heart to make them care about the story — every great journalist strives to do so. The reason why this is dangerous in this case is that it may cause you to defend the “little guy,” the one, who in my opinion, is wrong. Here’s the story…

In 1995, Chick-fil-A trademarked the phrase “Eat Mor Chikin” and began using it in an attempt to do just that, get people to eat more chicken. Bo Muller-Moore began using the phrase “Eat More Kale” in 2000. He says he got the idea 10 years ago from a farmer friend who wanted to promote local agriculture and sell more kale. Somehow in his memory, there’s a year discrepancy. In 2006, Chick-fil-A was made aware of the T-shirt company and sent Muller-Moore a cease-and-desist letter asking that the eatmorekale.com website be turned over to them. The letter said that the use of the phrase “is likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A’s intellectual property and diminishes its value.” Those are the facts, here is my opinion.

I don’t think the phrase will cause any confusion, but it could dilute the “the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A’s intellectual property and diminishes its value.” Just look at “Got Milk?” It was huge when it began, now everyone’s “Got” something. “Got Milk?” doesn’t have the same impact as it once had. Chick-fil-A is just trying to defend itself and the media is making it seem like they are the ones doing the bullying. Muller-Moore has a petition up on his website to urge people to jump on board in stopping the “giant” or “Corporate Goliath,” as they refer to Chick-fil-A. One line from the petition website says, “if Chick-fil-A, a multi-million dollar fast food company, has its way, Muller-Moore won’t be able to protect his business.” What they mean is, if Chick-fil-A wins this lawsuit, Bo Muller-Moore won’t be able to complete his trademark application for “Eat More Kale.” He says the trademark would protect his business from — get this — copycats.

The website trademarksandbrands.com wrote about this same story. They closed with, “Do you think there’s a likelihood of confusion between “chikin” and kale — or is this case about a larger issue?” Well, you know how I feel. It’s about something larger. Not Big Corporate versus the little guy or David versus Goliath. This is simply about protecting a brand. Who cares how big they are? Why can’t Chick-fil-A protect their business?

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