Chick-fil-A Won't Let You Eat More Kale

STORY BY Candace Bryan

Published: April 30, 2013

There are a lot of reasons I dislike Chick-fil-A . I’m not a fan of their low-quality foods, or their openly anti-homosexual policies and comments (that were only revoked when sales dropped). I could also do without those depressing billboards of cows painting “Eat mor chikin,” where cows basically beg consumers to murder a different animal instead of themselves.

But what has recently enraged me with regard to Chick-fil-A is their unnecessary, cruel lawsuit against Vermont folk artist Robert Muller-Moore. In case you haven’t heard, the wealthy, conservative bigots at Chick-fil-A are suing the artist because he made and sold t-shirts with the slogan “Eat More Kale” printed on them. Apparently that’s too similar to “Eat mor chikin,” Chick-fil-A’s brilliant and original marketing campaign. The fast-food company believes that “Eat More” is their intellectual property, and that shirts like “Eat More Kale” are infringing on their property rights.

Robert Muller-Moore was first contacted by Chick-fil-A in 2006, when they learned that he was producing the shirts. The artist claims he’d never even heard of the restaurant, and was asked by a friend to make a few shirts. He kept producing them as a tribute to Vermont’s local farming movement. After bullying him for a while back then, Chick-fil-A gave up and left him alone. But when he applied for trademark protection in 2011, they came back full-force.

It’s ludicrous. The restaurant chain Chick-fil-A and the vegetable kale are not even competitors. I know very few owners of “Eat More Kale” t-shirt who’d be caught dead at a Chick-fil-A. The ridiculusness of the lawsuit is furthered by the knowledge that Robert Muller-Moore runs a tiny, tiny business. He sells a few thousand shirts a year, which is just enough to support himself and his family. So why is Chick-fil-A so intimidated by his company? Why are they pouring time and money into ruining him? All it feels like is a giant middle finger to the farmers of America, small businesses, and people who like vegetables.

The case has been going on for over a year now, and only last week did the U.S. patent office give an initial ruling, a “preliminary no” for Robert Muller-Moore. They said that while he can still use “Eat More Kale” commercially, he can’t protect his business. It’s unfortunate for Muller-Moore, who has already been struggling with other people selling shirts with his exact logo printed. Without the trademark, he has no legal grounds to stop copiers and ensure his livelihood.

The whole absurd case isn’t over yet, and Muller-Moore has a few months to respond to the ruling. But the situation and ruling make me sick. It really just feels like the copyrighting system is designed to favor large corporations. While I agree that the case is tricky, I still can’t get behind the idea that the phrase “Eat More [insert food]” belongs to Chick-fil-A. I think mothers, doctors, and nutritionists worldwide might strongly disagree with the idea that Chick-fil-A came up with that saying first.

Other Stories by Candace Bryan
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