Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eat More . . . Doughnuts?

The NY Times is reporting that lawyers for Chick-fil-A have sent a notice to an entrepreneurial T-shirt seller in Vermont to cease and desist from selling his "Eat More Kale" T-shirts. Chick-fil-A claims that the shirt's slogan is "likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A's intellectual property."  (Chik-fil-A's trademarked advertising slogan is actually for the misspelled phrase "Eat Mor Chikin." See the video embedded below.)

I cannot profess to be an expert in these matters, but on the trademark infringement issue of public confusion, I just don't see a lot of dangerous consumer confusion between a fast food chicken restaurant that sells chicken sandwiches and a T-shirt maker that sells T-shirts about eating kale.

On the issue of trademark dilution, I think it is pretty hard to claim the distinctiveness of the phrase "Eat more (insert food item here)." In fact, I am certain that my children will recall me repeating that phrase, or something quite similar to it, many times over the years; "Eat more peas," or "Eat more liver" or "No desert until you eat more fish sticks," or something like that. If I reveal here that my physician recently advised me to "eat more fiber," should he expect a missive from Chick-fil-A?

Even a 30 second Google search turned up sites for, "Eat More Brook Trout,"  "Eat More Produce,"  "Eat More Chiles," "Eat More Cheese," "Eat More Fish," and "Eat More Cake." That last one might have run into some trouble with the British pop music group of the same name.

All in all, if I had my druthers, I'd rather eat more doughnuts. (I carefully avoided writing "donuts" so as to avoid any potential trademark issues.)

A Chick-fil-A sandwich:


Chick-fil-A commercial:

Press conference with Vermont's Governor and "Team Kale":

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