MADISON, Wis. (ABM) — On Monday, Chick-fil-A released a statement in the wake of criticism surrounding a lawsuit the company has filed against a Vermont small business owner and artist, Bo Muller-Moore, who is seeking to trademark "Eat More Kale" for use in his t-shirt business.
The fast food company alleges that the phrase too closesly resembles the company's own catchphrase "Eat mor chikin" and therefore impinges on Chick-fil-A's trademark. Interest in the incident began building on the Internet last week, as blogs and small entertainment outlets reported on the story as an example of corporate bullying.
The buzz reached a fever pitch on Monday when Vermont's governor, Peter Shumlin, threw his support behind Muller-Moore, offering to assist in raising legal funds.
Chick-fil-A's statement reads in full:
In 2006, we became aware of a Vermont company using the phrase "Eat More Kale" on T-shirts, which are sold on their website, www.eatmorekale.com. We have co-existed under these circumstances since 2006.
However, in August of 2011, the Vermont company submitted its application to trademark the slogan "Eat More Kale" for use and protection nationally. Because of this new development, we are required to protect "Eat Mor Chikin®," our own brand and trademark.
We support the entrepreneurial spirit of small business, and, in fact, our business model is founded on providing opportunity for small business owners. Every one of our 1,603 restaurants is owned and operated by a local business person who lives in and gives back to their community. Unfortunately, when protecting our trademark, the law does not allow us to differentiate between a large company or a small enterprise.
Our award-winning advertising campaign has been in place for the past 16 years, and we must legally protect and defend our "Eat Mor Chikin®" trademarks in order to maintain rights to the slogan. It is not uncommon for us – or for any corporation – to defend our trademark rights.