Apparently the folks at The National Pork Board have never heard of the concept of parody. They’ve sent a cease and desist letter to Jennifer over at The Lactivist Breastfeeding Blog because she has a CafePress store in which she sells a handful of pro-breastfeeding shirts with clever sayings on them the profits from which are donated to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio. One of those shirts just happens to be a parody of well known slogan:
Yep, you read that right. The Lactivist is being threatened with a lawsuit.
Why? Because I was selling a shirt that said “the other white milk.”
First, a little background if you’re new to the site. The Lactivist is a blog about breastfeeding and human milk banking. It’s mostly a gathering place for breastfeeding moms to come and share their thoughts and experiences and to keep up to date on the latest issues in the fight for the rights of a child to eat in public. To help fund the site (and to raise money for the non-profit milk banks) I have a CafePress store that sells t-shirts with funny pro-breastfeeding slogans. Things like “Milk on Tap” and “That’s my baby’s lunch you’re staring at.”
Thus…the shirt that read “the other white milk.”
I received a letter this morning from Jennifer Daniel Collins, an attorney at Faegre & Benson that represents The National Pork Board. It stated, for the most part, that my use of the phrase “the other white milk” violates their trademark on the phrase “the other white meat.” As such, they’ve demanded that I remove the shirt, demanded that the image of the shirt be removed from any site I know of, demanded that I destroy any shirts that exist with the logo and demand that I not at any point in the future use the phrase in a commercially profitable way.
Apparently the National Pork Board is worried that someone might come to my breastfeeding blog, check out the shirts and worry that when I say “white milk” what I really mean is “thick and juicy, straight from the hog PORK.” Come on now, be honest…were you confused? Because I sort of thought I was comparing breastmilk (which just happens to be white) with the milk of a variety of other animals (cows? goats?) that happen to produce white milk (not kangaroos though, their milk is pink) and that often gets fed to infants INSTEAD of breast milk.
I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure “the other white milk” would be recognized as a parody and thusly protected speech if it were taken up in court.
Jennifer isn’t as upset by being told to stop selling the shirt as she is by the reasoning behind the demand:
Wait, it gets better…
As best I can tell, the issue that REALLY has their panties in a wad is expressed in this quote from the cease and desist letter:
“In addition, your use of this slogan also tarnishes the good reputation of the National Pork Board’s mark in light of your apparent attempt to promote the use of breastmilk beyond merely for infant consumption, such as with the following slogans on your website in close proximity to the slogan “The Other White Milk.” “Dairy Diva,” “Nursing, Nature’s Own Breast Enhancement,” “Eat at Mom’s, fast-fresh-from the breast,” and “My Milk is the Breast.”
Go back and read that again. “apparent attempt to promote the use of breastmilk beyond merely for infant consumption.”
Do they think I’m trying to an promote an adult breastfeeding fetish??!
That’s certainly what the letter makes it sound like they think and it makes them look like ignorant dumb asses as a result. As Jennifer points out on her blog, it’s almost as though they didn’t stop long enough to see what her blog is all about before getting all huffy and dashing off the C&D letter.
Jennifer’s still pondering what course to take on this and is looking for a good pro bono lawyer to speak to about it. In the meantime she’s asking folks to blog about and to contact The National Pork Board directly to express the views on the topic. She handily provides contact information in her entry.
Now I’m not sure how much she’ll appreciate being linked to by an atheist seeing as it turns out she’s a born-again Charismatic Evangelical according to her archives, but, despite our obvious differences over the God-hypothesis, I am still in full agreement with her on both the importance of breastfeeding and the fact that The National Pork Board is way out of line. On this issue I think she’s in the right and I’m more than willing to throw my support behind her as a result and I encourage you to do the same.