Would You Confuse “Chikin” with Kale?

Some folks have a cool idea and roll with it. One of those people is Bo Muller-Moore who has been making shirts that say, among other things, Eat More Kale. It’s a simple suggestion really, and not one that is outlandish or unthinkable. A simple thought – eat some more leafy greens that are good for you. Fair enough.

I met Bo when putting together the book on PhanArt and loved the concept, even though I had no idea what kale was or why I should eat it. After hanging with Bo a few times, I always felt as though I was connecting with one of those good people that you know the moment you meet them. Bo is a family man with a side-business that has grown as the message has gotten out. Eat More Kale is pretty simple and basic, and I think that’s what makes it such a great message.

Fast forward to late last year and Bo thought it was time he should trademark the name ‘Eat More Kale’. But he was met with a challenge from Chick-fil-A, the fast food chicken chain who sells chicken and other less than healthy food alternatives. Chick-fil-A took legal action to prevent the trademark from going through, effectively preventing a smooth process for Bo to receive his trademark.

Essentially, Chick-fil-A asserted that ‘Eat More Kale’ was far too similar to ‘Eat Mor Chikin’. The U.S Patent and Trademark Office at least temporarily agrees;  they issued a preliminary decision that said people would likely confuse the source of the two phrases.

So an average guy, making a design based on a local farmer’s recommendation and without any relation to a sign written by a cow saying ‘Eat mor chikin’, is not being allowed to trademark an original idea because of corporate bullying. Think about that for a second.

The chicken company says “We must legally protect and defend our ‘Eat mor chikin’ trademarks in order to maintain rights to the slogan.” Fair enough. I respect that you need to protect your slogan and trademark. But ‘Eat More Kale’ and ‘Eat mor chikin’ are hardly the same thing. You have ‘Eat’ to start, fair enough, that’s the verb, the command in question. Then you have ‘more’ vs ‘mor’, an intentional misspelling on the end of Chick-fil-A which has semi-literate cows pushing for you to not eat them, in the form of burgers. But for Bo, it’s a suggestion that you should eat more of something, and for a better reason than bovine-preservation. The last words, ‘chikin’ and ‘kale’ differ so greatly, an explanation is far from necessary.

 Bo is not alone in his fight. Vermont’s top elected officials, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy as well as Anderson Cooper, The Economist, the New York Times are all weighing in. And there’s even been a successful Kickstarter campaign that resulted in raising funds for a documentary called ‘A Defiant Dude’, about Bo and this process. The campaign has raised $89,000, $14,000 more than the goal. But his fight goes on. This isn’t just a test of intellectual property rights. It’s a test of whether one little guy can win, in the face of obvious corporate bullying.