Chik-fil-A sues Eat More Kale Guy!? ~ Jenna Penielle Lyons

Via Jenna Penielle Lyons on Sep 24, 2013

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A Leafy & Meaty Trial: Why the “Eat More Kale” Guy might beat Chik-fil-A in Court.

When I talked to Bo Muller-Moore, the “Eat More Kale guy” on the phone, I was thoroughly entertained for about half an hour.

A quirky artist, he makes earthy T-shirts promoting the consumption of kale.

Bo started making the Eat More Kale t-shirts 13 years ago; when he started, he made $500 a year off the sale of the shirts. Now, he makes about $250,000 a year off of them. He lives in Montpelier, Vermont and drives around in a Subaru that is almost as old as I am. His studio–where he makes the Eat More Kale t-shirts–is located downtown behind his 120 year old house in the upper level of his garage.

He is a dude making t-shirts in a studio with the company of his stereo and a pet tortoise; consequently, he calls this space his “Dudio.” He truly represents folk artisanship and the American work ethic… the age-old adage that someone living in the USA is capable of making something out of nothing.

And the corporate fast-food giant, Chik-fil-A, has taken him to court in an effort to disband the Eat More Kale brand, which they claim infringes upon their motto, “Eat mor chikin.”

Chik-fil-A, which has strict evangelical Christian business practices, and makes more money per restaurant per year than McDonald’s, originally sent Muller-Moore a cease-and-desist letter, asking EMK to do exactly that… cease and desist with the Eat More Kale brand.

Photo credit: Ann Larie Valentine
Photo credit: Ann Larie Valentine

In the spirit of American persistence, Muller-Moore filed for a trademark and the U.S. Patent and Trademark office is scheduled to make a final ruling in less than five months. Though trademark scholars do not think that the Kale Guy has much of a chance in securing a trademark, many people are hoping that he can beat the [persistent] corporate, chicken-wielding bully in court.

“Their persistence comes out of the poison of unrestricted power,” Muller-Moore says. 

And Muller-Moore knows persistence when he sees it. A foster parent, Muller-Moore takes care of his profoundly-autistic adult son, Seamus. He makes about five dollars an hour to be a foster parent, a figure that he says hasn’t changed since the Gulf War.

When it comes to parenting, “I could do a shitty job or a good job, and it doesn’t matter. I am an American, but in social services, that is not the case.”

This lack of importance placed on taking care of others—being compassionate—is exactly what we see in the Chik-fil-A vs. EatMoreKale.com case. Chik-fil-A claims that the two mottos are confusing to customers.

Last time I checked, kale and chicken were nothing alike, and I did not accidentally order a T-shirt instead of chicken strips. eatmorchikin

But alas, the fast-food chain continues its attempts to shut down Muller-Moore’s leafy operation, even though his product undeniably has no effect on their sales.

“For me, this money is my livelihood. For the owners of Chik-fil-A, this may be a weekend golfing outing,” says Muller-Moore.

When I asked him how his business started, he told me EatMoreKale.com started out as something for he and his autistic son to do together. Now, he works hard making these shirts… hand-making them. And, his love of T-shirts has led to a chain of sustainable business practices that Chik-fil-A does not subscribe to. Muller-Moore screen prints his simple patterns onto locally-dyed T-shirts from Comfort Colors, an eco-minded Vermont business.

If Chik-fil-A wins and succeeds in shutting down EatMoreKale.com, it is not the end of the road for the Kale Guy. He says he could probably obtain a common law trademark, which would essentially allow him to continue to make his shirts under the same name. And Muller-Moore, who is anything but an anarchist, understands why Chik-fil-A has a problem: “I understand a corporation protecting [the comparison of] apples to apples. I just don’t understand a corporation protecting [the comparison of] apples to zebras.”

Bo Muller-Moore is a man with a green-minded message, and he does what he loves. He stands for sustainability, artisanship, and honest work; it is despicable that a corporate entity—one that stands for Christian values—and the United States legal system would engage in this dispute against one of its citizens.

Two businesses—each of very different sizes and stature, that have coexisted perfectly for 12 years—are now standing up to each other, and the court will make a decision soon.

May the best man (and his food) win.

For more info about Bo Muller-Moore and a tour of his studio, visit EatMoreKale.com and watch:

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 Like right livelihood on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick

{photo: via EMK Facebook page}

 

About Jenna Penielle Lyons

Jenna Penielle Lyons was born in Portales, New Mexico among sage and sand. Raised in Pocatello, Idaho among the black rock and juniper, she grew up wandering in cowboy boots, running, riding bikes, skiing, climbing, painting, and studying classical ballet. She is a scholar of English Literature, a poet, painter, photographer, musician, and outdoorswoman. She winters in Missoula and spends the summer working for Snake River Hotshots. She is a lover of mountain bluebirds & elephants, tea & good coffee, Carl Jung, Salvador Dali, skiing, climbing in the desert, yoga, harp music, and sagebrush. Her favorite foods are borscht and any combination of chocolate and cayenne pepper. Follow her adventures at The Lyon’s Roar.

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10 Responses to “Chik-fil-A sues Eat More Kale Guy!? ~ Jenna Penielle Lyons”

  1. just_rp says:

    "Muller-Moore makes most of his living from taking care of his profoundly-autistic adult son, Seamus. He makes about five dollars an hour to be a foster parent"
    " Now, he makes about $250,000 a year off of them" (the t shirts)

    …math? Does he truly make more than $250,000 annually being a foster parent? "most of his living" would be better than 50%…
    If the shirt business is worth 250k and still isn't "most" of his living…
    ???

    • Jenna Lyons says:

      Sorry for my bad math; Muller-Moore initially made his living as a foster parent.
      You do not need to be aggressive in your comment. I'm not Muller-Moore's financial assistant, but I calculated that he probably makes about 43,000 annually as a foster parent. Thanks for pointing out my flaws as a mathematician.
      Thanks for reading.

      Jenna Lyons

  2. Heather says:

    Even if he made 5$ every 24 hours he would only make 43,800 a year so not even close to 250,000 a year …

  3. Martha Dixon says:

    To the author: don't apologize. It was perfectly clear to me what you were saying, that he started off making $500 a year on the t-shirts, which grew to $250,000. He also makes money for taking care of his son. Any person with a brain would re-read what you said if it did not make sense to them the first time they read it, instead of spouting off and making you feel bad. It is so much easier to critique than to create.

    • The lyoness says:

      Thanks Martha! We fixed the article so that people can’t do that anymore.

      Blessings!

      J.

    • Karen says:

      I second that! The math in the article was very clear to me as well. He makes a small living as a foster parent and turned a small business into a large one ($500 – $250,000). Not sure what the fuss is about. The article is about humble beginnings and doing good work, not becoming rich off foster care cash. Sheesh!

  4. James Beard says:

    Jenna Your article is perfectly clear and a great message about standing up to the man. I liked chik fila but I will be spending my money somewhere else. I think I will buy a T shirt. Eat More Kale. Stay Strong

  5. Amber says:

    Great read!
    I had to laugh at the first couple of comments, really how can they be bothered, think they missed the whole point of the article!

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