National Pork Board Needs to Back Off

If I was a farmer making a living off my hogs, and I learned that the organization that represents my way of supporting myself and family finds that a breastfeeding t-shirt slogan is a threat, you can bet your sweet pork barrel politics that I’d resign my membership faster than it takes to microwave bacon.

Represent my interests and protect my integrity. That’s what my membership fees are for.

As a farmer who is used to getting her hands dirty and raising healthy stock to feed people, I would have no problem at all with a humorous t-shirt that raises money for a non-profit breast milk bank for hungry babies with a slogan like “The other white milk.”

I’ve never met a farmer yet who was afraid of breasts, or being associated with them. Most of the farm folk I know strongly support natural food sources and healthy lifestyles.

All are welcome and invited to donate to HMBANA.org.

For further information: A Call for Help – Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio, by Jennifer Laycock, who is being sued by the National Pork Association.

One of the great things about the HMBANA milk banks is the fact that they are non-profit. They charge ONLY enough money to cover the processing and storage costs for the milk. While insurance often covers the cost of the milk, some insurance companies refuse to pay. In other situations, the parents of the baby simply don’t have insurance. Since HMBANA milk banks are committed to providing that milk for any baby that medically needs it, that means that they sometimes send out milk that they will never be reimbursed for. In fact, the average milk bank never receives payment for 15-20% of the milk that they ship. Here in Columbus, that percentage if even higher. Add in the fact that the milk bank is barely two years old (and thus hasn’t yet recouped enough costs to pay for all their equipment) and you’ve got a milk bank that’s really struggling to the point that every single dollar of donations REALLY counts.

Reference: National Pork Board Says: Breastfeeding Is A Viable Trademark Threat

Reference legal perspective: Copyright, Trademarks and Pork Milk?

There is a lot of difference between a copyright and a trademark. One difference is, you can’t have a copyright on a short sentence or phrase (like “The Other White Meat”) because it’s not long enough to have a significant amount of creativity to warrant it. It doesn’t matter if they had a team of professional marketers and spent a 100 million, or someone came up with it for free while half asleep after eating too many donuts during a meeting. It’s not long enough to be creative enough to fall under copyright law.

There is one other issue with Trademark law that is relatively new to the US (1995), and is the concept of dilution. Up until then, you’d have to show that there was a possibility of consumer confusion in order for trademark law to kick in.

She sold one t-shirt, for $8.

And now faces a lawsuit.