Bo waits on his lawyer + We interview an acclaimed author, and another small business owner being 'Trademark Bullied'
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Hello Backers, a quick note that follows on the horrific and heartbreaking massacre in Paris on the satirical weekly paper, Charlie Hebdo.
One of the last interviews we conducted for our documentary was just prior to Thanksgiving in Paris where we interviewed Ludovic Houplain, a French graphic artist who, with a handful of other graphic artists created the short film, 'LOGORAMA,' a parody of nearly 3000 logos that critiqued our obsession with brands and trademarks.
The French have a great tradition of critique and parody, and proudly protect their right to free speech -- even when it concerns trademarks and logos.
This was proudly on display in the Academy Award-winning short film LOGORAMA where, along with many other logos engaging in a less-than-corporate-approved way, Ronald McDonald is depicted wielding a machine gun and shooting at kids with bullets that are the logo for the NRA (National Rifle Association).
In the U.S. trademarks and logos are often considered sacrosanct property, and off limits for artists -- Chick-fil-A's cease and desist letter to Bo is one of many examples that perpetuate this myth. But from a legal standpoint, this is largely not true -- yet it's a widely held perception that moved one American University scholar to address the issue in a paper entitled "LOGORAMA: The Great Trademark Heist."
Anyway, the terrible events in Paris of the past week made us think of our interview with Ludovic Houplain who, with solemn poignancy, had some great things to say about artists and their rights to free speech:
"I'm an artist, and in France I have the right free speech and I'm going to use it. And if they attack me, I'll defend myself in saying that this is French law, which is part of our right to free speech. And the right to parody and caricature in the US -- it's not really the same deal as here, so, I'm really counting on French law. ... As far as freedom of expression goes, I think that artists should take precedence over brands; if not, the world might be ruled by fear. And if we are always afraid of things, we won't do anything, we won't create. I think that artists must create and shouldn't be afraid. And at the same time, with a work of art, we're not hurting anybody: a work of art can't make somebody sick. And if you want to make a work of art that critiques brands, well that's your right as an artist. It is our right to free speech. Then afterwards, you have to accept the consequences, because, at some point, a brand could bring you to trial. But you have your conscience. That's what we have: we have our consciences."
Our hearts and thoughts go to the families and friends of those slain in Paris.
Okay, that's all for now. Work on our film continues. As always, thank you for your support of our documentary in production. Until next time...
Hello Backers and Supporters!
It's official -- on Friday December 12th, 2014, on the steps of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier along with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, Bo Muller-Moore held a press conference and made a big announcement concerning his efforts to trademark 'Eat More Kale.'
Bo's opening statement at the press conference:
"I'm so glad to stand before you with some good news! For 38 months I've been in a legal wrestling match with the fast food giant, Chick-fil-A, and the U.S. trademark office. Well I'm proud to announce that as of December 9th I've been granted a trademark for my design for Eat More Kale. And as important as that trademark is, I've called Chick-fil-A's bluff on their cease and desist demands. I am not ceasing and desisting -- I am thriving thanks to people like you and thanks to Vermont and people from beyond."
As you can imagine, Bo was happy to be making his announcement surrounded by friends, family and supporters. In addition to the invited guests, there were also about a dozen members of the press in attendance.
Following the press conference, Bo gave us an interview in which he was reflective and surprisingly pensive.
We sat down with Bo in Meeting Room 11 in the statehouse and, surrounded by portraits of former governors and civil war generals, conducted an hour long on-camera interview in which Bo mused on the day's events, his three year journey to get his trademark registered, and mortality:
"I like the idea of being 'Bo the Eat More Kale guy' so much that I've decided recently that when I die I want to be buried at Hope Cemetery over in Barre, a cemetery that's famous for its custom tombstones -- and I've decided recently that I want a tombstone shaped like a t-shirt and I want it to say 'Here lies Bo, the Eat More Kale guy.' And I hope when people see that they'll say, 'That was that guy who stood up to the chicken slingers.' ... I hope 'Eat More Kale' and the idea of 'Eat More Kale' will last. And I hope the memory of the guy that stands up to billionaires will last. And if it means that I have to purchase my own tombstone shaped like a t-shirt, I'm that shameless. I would love the idea of someone standing above my grave and saying, 'That's the guy that decided to stand up and fight the impossible fight.'"
A photo essay from our footage of the press conference:
Our next update will be prior to Christmas.
Okay folks, Bo's news is obviously big news for our documentary which -- assuming nothing changes, or before the USPTO issues Eat More Kale's trademark registration in the next six months -- it means we potentially have an ending! It also means we can finally begin planning the last stages of the production and completion of the film. So I'll be back in touch before Christmas with a complete run down of where our film is now, where we're heading, and an idea of when we'll get there.
In the meantime, have a great beginning to your holiday season!