Shumlin Forms 'Team Kale' To Support Local T-Shirt Artist
12/05/11 12:04PM By Kirk Carapezza
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(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin is using his bully-pulpit to support a local folk artist who's embroiled in a trademark dispute with a national fast-food chain.
As VPR's Kirk Carapezza reports, the governor is backing a grassroots campaign to raise money for a legal defense fund.
(Carapezza) Over the past 10 years, Bo Muller-Moore has been running his t-shirt business around the somewhat whimsical phrase "Eat More Kale"
But after filing for a federal trademark to prevent copycats, the southern fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A accused him of infringing on its trademark - "Eat Mor' Chikin."
Now Muller-Moore is engaged in what could be a very long legal fight, which has already drawn support online and national media attention.
(Shumlin) "So you guys got to crowd right in. It's a little awkward, but their camera range is narrow so get used to this." (Muller-Moore) "I'm not bashful."
(Carapezza) It doesn't seem to be letting up. At a news conference in downtown Montpelier, Governor Shumlin stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Muller-Moore - and many of his supporters - as they launch ‘Team Kale.'
(Shumlin) "'Team Kale' is a simple effort to raise money for Bo's defense fund. Don't mess with Vermont. Don't mess with Kale. And, Chick Fil-A, get out of the way because we are going to win this one."
(Carapezza) Win or lose, Shumlin says this grassroots campaign is about sending the fast-food chain a message.
(Shumlin) "Don't interfere with our agricultural renaissance where we're growing local food and selling it locally."
(Carapezza) The governor also hopes ‘Team Kale' will protect jobs. The small business buys all of its products - ink, blank shirts and screen prints - in state.
(Carapezza) Muller-Moore says the experience, so far, has been humbling.
(MullerMoore) "Borderline overwhelming. What a problem for a folk artist to have. This is a fine problem."
(Carapezza) That's because it has led to a big boost in sales. But it may just be the beginning for ‘Eat More Kale.'
Attorney Dan Richardson is defending Muller-Moore. He says he has no idea how much the lawsuit could ultimately cost.
(Richardson) "Part of that depends upon to what depth Chick-Fil-A decides to raise issues within the scope of the litigation."
(Carapezza) Chick Fil-A says that it will continue to protect its brand and trademark until the artist stops printing his kale t-shirts and turns over his website.
For VPR News, I'm Kirk Carapezza.