Bo Muller-Moore, a Montpelier artist whose story has been all over the Vermont media for weeks and has now caught the attention of the national media, has printed T-shirts featuring original designs in a room above his garage. He’s been at it since 2000, printing each shirt by hand, one at a time.
A few months after he started printing shirts, a local kale farmer approached him at the Montpelier Farmers Market. The man grew kale and wondered if Muller-Moore would print him a shirt reading “Eat More Kale.” Muller-Moore agreed, and delivered the shirt to the farmer. When the two ran into each other at the farmers market a few weeks later, Muller-Moore was surprised to learn that the farmer was being barraged by people requesting shirts of their own. Since then, Muller-Moore’s “Eat More Kale” T-shirts have grown into something of a cultural symbol in a state that prides itself on its environmental consciousness and its support of both local sustainable agriculture and the “buy local” movement.
As far as homophobic restaurant giant Chick-fil-A is concerned, though, Muller-Moore’s “Eat More Kale” slogan bears too much resemblance to their trademarked phrase “Eat Mor Chikin.” Chick-fil-A advertisements feature semiliterate cows holding hand-painted signs featuring that slogan in an attempt to save themselves from being eaten. When Muller-Moore filed an application to trademark “Eat More Kale,” Chick-fil-A filed suit. They maintain that despite the obvious differences between chicken and kale and the fact that Chick-fil-A does not operate in the state of Vermont, Muller-Moore’s slogan would cause “confusion of the public.”
To this Vermonter, the chain’s argument is implausible. This isn’t trademark infringement, it’s corporate bullying.
Vermont’s two senators, Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, have gotten involved, and today, governor Peter Shumlin held a press conference announcing his support for “Team Kale” and encouraging others to support Muller-Moore’s stand against Chick-fil-A. If you’d like to lend your support, like Eat More Kale on Facebook, sign the Change.org petition calling on Chick-fil-A to get off the back of local businesses, and donate to Team Kale! I can’t think of a quirkier, cooler way to make a statement this holiday season than an “Eat More Kale” T-shirt (other than a Truth Wins Out shirt, of course :-).