Update 74: Bo defends victim status + What happened to Team Kale funds? Interview with Bo, Part 2.
Two weeks ago I posted Part 1 of an edited excerpt from my recent interview with Bo in which he changed his years-long claim that he had nothing to do with the length of time his federal trademark application was taking.
In a surprising reversal, Bo said he did everything he could to make the Eat More Kale trademark process last longer, including telling his attorneys to “take the sweet time on the deadlines.”
Bo claimed his lawyer and others were telling him that at the end of the trademark process he would not be able to make any more Eat More Kale T-shirts -- so Bo's goal was to "make that game last longer" so he could make and sell as many T-shirts as possible.
The federal trademark process for Eat More Kale stretched four years.
Bo said this strategy had been in place with his pro bono Vermont lawyer, Daniel Richardson, “from the start.”
In Part 2 posted below, Bo emphasizes his status as a victim of Chick-fil-A during those years, saying he was a “pending victim.” He also defended spending $12,500 of a “Team Kale” legal defense fund to settle a divorce and start a doughnut business.
Below are edited excerpts from my March 21, 2018 interview for our documentary with Bo Muller-Moore in Waterbury, Vermont:
JL: Is there anything to this story that you’re aware of that I’m missing?
BO: I would want to reiterate that the entire time that the case went on, I was a victim of Chick-fil-A.
JL: The entire time.
BO: Yeah. You keep saying that I wasn’t, but if I was going to have to cease and desist because of a ball that they got rolling——
JL: But a year into your case you said that Chick-fil-A’s cease and desist didn’t mean shit.
BO: Until the trademark office agrees with Chick-fil-A and then it potentially means shit.
JL: Potentially. But you weren’t a victim of Chick-fil-A two years in, you weren’t a victim of Chick-fil-A three years in, you weren’t a victim of Chick-fil-A four years in.
BO: I was a pending victim. I was going to be if they had their way. And they weren’t doing anything to make it not their way.
JL: Then why didn’t you engage Chick-fil-A directly? You said you were going to do some activism: that activism never happened. You said you were going to contact the Cathy family [owners of Chick-fil-A]: that contact never happened.
BO: It must’ve been hard to contact them.
JL: Why didn’t your lawyers reach out to Chick-fil-A to offer them a co-[existence] agreement?
BO: I don’t know. You’ll have to talk to Dan [Bo’s Vermont lawyer]. … My activism would’ve been beating the drums on Facebook and being a willing participant of your film.
JL: So the next trademark bullying story comes along, how does your story and what you did, either help them or hurt them?
BO: Early on in all of this, I had hoped that my case would be some sort of precedent for reasonable trademark law or reasonable trademark practice. I thought maybe trademark bullies would simmer down a bit and recognize the error of their ways. As far as I can tell, I don’t think my case has made a shit of difference to anyone.
Interview Questions about Governor's “Team Kale” legal fund:
In 2011, then governor of Vermont Peter Shumlin held a press conference in Montpelier, VT, announcing a legal fund for Bo called Team Kale for a “legal defense fund for Bo and his team.” According to Bo, over the years the legal fund generated $25,000 in public donations. Bo often posted on Facebook and his website asking the public to donate to the fund.
After the USPTO issued a registered trademark for Eat More Kale in 2015, Bo said that he dispersed half the fund to his pro bono Vermont lawyer, Daniel Richardson, and the other half he kept to pay for his divorce and new doughnut business.
Bo said he gave nothing to his University of New Hampshire legal team which also worked on his case, pro bono.
Interview with Bo, continued:
JL: Your Team Kale legal fund: half of it went to Dan [Bo’s Vermont lawyer] and half of it went to your divorce and your doughnut business. You still stand by that?
BO: I do. I had the best intentions. I remember saying on film that I intended to give it to charity and wish I had been in that situation, wish that life had not put me in a situation in which I was unable to fulfill my best intentions.
JL: Can you comment on how that somebody might be concerned that they donated to your legal fund, and you ended up spending that money on personal items?
BO: I’ve talked to a lot of people and they said that they donated it to me for my well-being, and to fight for Eat More Kale and to keep Eat More Kale going. When they heard that that meant investing in myself a little bit, in the midst of an expensive divorce, not a single person had any problem with that.
JL: Just to be clear, though, this was at the end of four years when you had done pretty well financially, plus you told me about this when you’d just gotten back from a family vacation to Costa Rica.
BO: Yes, that I put on my credit card and sold an IRA in November to pay off.
JL: So you gave half the [Team Kale] money to Dan, and kept half the money. How come the University of New Hampshire did the lion’s share of the trademark work, and they were the trademark professionals, and they had even reached out to you about possibly paying for some travel [for students] —— why didn’t you give any money to them?
BO: I didn’t have any left over when I had taken care of what I needed to get by during the divorce. … I had to be specific where my charity was going to go this time. And I presumed that the UNH students were going to be just fine, and the college was going to continue, and the professors and the deans were going to be all right; they weren’t going to miss any meals. I had great intentions and then life threw me a curve ball. And to anyone who's been through a divorce they recognize that it can supercede all sorts of great expectations.
JL: Did anybody advise you about those funds?
BO: Dan, my lawyer. He said that that legal fund was mine to do with what I want. He literally said I could buy a bass boat if I so chose.
Note: Previously, while researching Team Kale, I sought interviews with former Governor Peter Shumlin and Vermont Senator Anthony Pollina. In addition to Governor Shumlin’s Team Kale legal defense fund, Senator Pollina was a vocal supporter of Eat More Kale and even co-sponsored legislation designating kale as the Vermont state vegetable; Senator Pollina tied this legislation to Bo’s story, saying that kale exemplified “Vermont’s fighting spirit.”
Both former Governor Shumlin and State Senator Pollina did not return my repeated email and phone requests for interviews.
Okay, that’s all for now — more, later.
Coming soon: Part 3 of Bo's interview. We’re also still waiting on the federal judge’s decision in our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the USPTO which will hopefully allow us to access information that was withheld from our film.
Meanwhile, winter is in extra innings here in Vermont -- hope you're seeing signs of spring where you are! Take care,