Team Kale

Recently, I linked to a story about Chick-fil-A’s trademark lawsuit against a Vermont man and his “Eat More Kale” t-shirts because of their fear of the shirts “diluting” the chain’s intellectual property. Ugh.

Today, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin took a stand for Robert Muller-Moore, stating that he’s on “Team Kale,” a group dedicated to providing a defense fund for Moore and sending a message about food policy more generally. His statement shows his commitment to localism and sustainability – in the food industry and beyond. I was shocked and thrilled to see this video of the Governor openly telling Chick-fil-A that Moore is going to “win this one.” He also had a bit of advice of his own for the fast food joint:

“If you think that Vermonters don’t understand the difference between kale and a chicken sandwich, we invite you to Vermont and will give you a lesson about the difference between a kale and a chicken…”

Thumbs up, Vermont! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any developments on this lawsuit.

Donate to Team Kale here. My “Eat More Kale” sticker is on its way.

Check out the Governor’s statement here.

Follow Team Kale on twitter @teamkale, and Governor Shumlin @GovPeterShumlin


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Categories: Food


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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5 Comments on “Team Kale”

  1. Evan
    December 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Not to rain on Team Kale’s parade, since I also think the lawsuit is sort of ridiculous, but isn’t this a bit like the recent conflict between that clinic at Maryland Law and the state’s governor?

    Ultra-short version:

    “[Maryland Governor] O’Malley’s letter, sent to [Maryland Law Dean] Haddon on Nov. 14, contended that the clinic’s suit is of ‘questionable merit,’ given that the Maryland Department of the Environment found no ‘strong evidence’ linking the farm to high levels of pollution in the local waterways. . . . Haddon expressed concern that O’Malley’s letter could prejudice a jury and undermine ‘the integrity of the judicial process.'”


    • December 5, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

      Hmmm. Good/interesting point. Your concern is the jury prejudice, correct? I’m not sure of the venue for this lawsuit, and I’m sure that would affect who in the jury pool is aware of the support. Maybe I should look into that.

      I wonder (barring any settlement) how the Governor’s involvement (“endorsement”?) will affect voir dire. I imagine public officials support litigants in this way more frequently than we’re aware of, particularly when the litigant’s case lines up with their public policies more broadly (i.e. speaking out for/against the death penalty when huge death penalty cases come up).

    • Evan
      December 5, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

      That’s the major concern. I think it’s particularly problematic where, as here, Shumlin has no particular legal expertise. How does he know who’s going to win? Did he ask for an opinion from somebody at the Vermont DoJ? Is the case even briefed yet? If not, it seems like he’s just expressing an opinion about his political preferences and implicatiesthat he expects a “pro-Vermont” decision regardless of the legal merits in a way that denigrates the independence, sanctity, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it of the legal process.

      I think you’re probably right that political officials try to influence pending litigation like this more than we hear about. The temptation must be huge.

      • Evan
        December 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

        Hmm, “implicatiesthat” – that’s quite a typo. I’m gonna save that for later.

  2. shaun
    December 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    i’m guessing that the governor was briefed on the fact that chick-fil-a doesn’t have much of a case before the press conference. chick-fil-a is pretty clearly overpolicing their brand. still, i guess i don’t see the need to be overly critical here, even if the governor had no idea about trademark law. if trademark law prohibited the sale of things branded with “eat more kale,” (and, again, i don’t think it does) something would be terribly wrong with trademark law. i don’t see anything wrong with a politician coming out and saying a law is misguided.

    now, maybe he should wait until after the trial to come out with this dissent, but isn’t that part of the issue with this sort of thing? these cases rarely make it to trial because the big guys grossly outspend the little guys. (in fact, i’m curious how many of these letters chick-fil-a has sent out that didn’t gather support in the blogosphere. probably a lot.) thus, the strongest version of my argument could be that if team kale doesn’t gather support, it has no chance of maintaing its brand. i’m not sure i want to go that far, but i don’t think the governor was out of line.

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