Tuesday, February 21, 2012

News-Press feature of Aaron O'Brien and his support of Ron Paul

His beliefs led him to candidate Ron Paul

Jan. 28, 2012  | 
Aaron O'Brien is a Ron Paul supporter. He is pictured in his office in Fort Myers.

Aaron O'Brien is a Ron Paul supporter. He is pictured in his office in Fort Myers. / Amanda Inscore/news-press.com

No debate is going to sway these folks. While the four top Republican contenders hope to entice a few voters their way by Tuesday’s primary election, many voters in Southwest Florida are standing by their man. The News-Press found four such voters adamantly for one of the four leaders and unlikely to change. Their reasons range from commitment to conservative values and past experience to basic issues such as moral integrity.
For Aaron O’Brien, there was no metamorphosis in his support of Republican presidential contender Ron Paul.
“It was a very easy choice,” the local attorney said. “I don’t decide whom I am going to support based on personality or hairdos or one-line zingers in debates.”
His decision to support Paul is based on his own ideology.
“I have a set of core beliefs and those are I believe in free markets, limited government, individual liberty coupled with personal responsibility and binding the federal government to the chains of the United States Constitution,” he said.
Sitting in a corner office on the third floor of the Richards Building in downtown Fort Myers, O’Brien said: “When I apply those beliefs and principles to the candidates, again it was a very easy choice. There was no choice.”
O’Brien, 40, said Paul isn’t a slick candidate who uses glib phrases and catchwords to attract followers.
In the world of sound bites and well-organized media campaigns, O’Brien said Paul’s public speaking style isn’t as polished as other candidates.
“Frankly, he’s not the best public speaker, he would admit,” he said. “But, I’ve had, and imagine a lot of other people have had, enough of well-presented teleprompter, canned speeches. And I don’t believe we should choose (a candidate) based upon oratory skills.”
O’Brien suggested there have been a lot of bad politicians over the years who were tremendous speakers.
O’Brien also said the personality and appearance aspects of today’s media campaigns put emphasis on looks.
“I get the feeling that Ron Paul probably would be leading if we didn’t have television,” he said.
“Now they say ‘Well, he looks like my crazy, old uncle.’ And I have to say to people, you know, I agree at some level, but, again, that’s not how I chose my candidate. I chose on principle and commitment to those principles.”
O’Brien said his support of Paul is not something he’s just picked up overnight. He said he has been an admirer of the man for many years and even wrote a letter to the editor in 1997 lauding the Texas congressman based upon a stand Paul made in Congress.
O’Brien said he read about a decision in Congress to spend $30,000 to give a golden medallion to the late Mother Teresa for her charity work. The vote for that funding was 400-1.
“Paul was the 1,” he said. “In fact he was known in Congress as ‘Dr. No’ for his no votes.”
O’Brien said Paul was not against honoring charity work of the religious figure but instead he cited the Constitution.
“He says there was no authority provided in the Constitution for the Congress to give a gold medallion to somebody else,” O’Brien said. “When somebody is that principled, they’re my kind of guy.”
O’Brien, who operates a general legal practice in partnership with his wife Christina, said he was thrilled when he heard Paul would be a presidential contender. He said there aren’t any other candidates who spark interest in him like Paul.
He also will reserve judgment on who may or may not get his vote if Paul is not the GOP’s candidate.
“I will have to think about it at that time,” he said. “I’m just hoping that he gets enough delegates” to be the Republican candidate.
O’Brien said he was satisfied with the government’s financial activity during the Clinton years when there was a surplus budget.
“I kinda liked having a surplus, I like a federal government that can stay within its means,” he said, “I think it’s a good idea.”
But, he said, then came the first Bush administration.
“He ran on a humble foreign policy and a smaller federal government and I can get behind those ideas,” he said. “Then he turned around and did exactly the opposite.”
The federal debt began to grow out of control then and continues now.
“Frankly, I’m tired of it,” he said.
He said Paul has been ahead of the curve, having predicted the housing meltdown and the financial bubble bursting and there are speeches and writings he made that said all of this and he wasn’t listened to, O’Brien said.
He noted when Paul was running in 2007 for the ’08 race “he was seen as a crank, a sky-is-falling kind of guy.”
O’Brien said support for the bailouts, which many candidates gave, turn him off.
“I can’t trust someone who believes that’s the proper role of the federal government and I’m not going to vote for them,” he said.
O’Brien said Americans need to have a restrained federal government.
“I just don’t agree in taking money from working people and giving it to Wall Street and the wealthy,” he said, such as the auto industry or agriculture.
“If you own a shoe store on Main Street forget it. That’s capitalism,” he said. “I support real capitalism, not the perverted version we’ve got now.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trademark law run amok

So Chik-Fil-A is complaining about some dude with a local business whose T-shirts read "Eat More Kale."  Chik-Fil-A says the shirts diminish it's trademark.

In my view, this expands trademark law beyond what it should be. 

Plus, I recall a cattleman's association (I believe) who sported bumper stickers that read "Eat More Beef!" long before I'd ever heard of Chik-Fil-A's slogan.

Here's the article:

Vt. folk artist says he'll fight Chick-fil-A giant for rights to phrase 'eat more kale'

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- A folk artist expanding his home business built around the words "eat more kale" says he's ready to fight root-to-feather to protect his phrase from what he sees as an assault by Chick-fil-A, which holds the trademark to the phrase "eat mor chikin."
Bo Muller-Moore uses a hand silkscreen machine to apply his phrase, which he calls an expression of the benefits of local agriculture, on T-shirts and sweatshirts. But his effort to protect his business from copycats drew the attention of Chick-fil-A, the Atlanta-based fast-food chain that uses ads with images of cows that can't spell displaying their own phrase on message boards.
In a letter, a lawyer for Chick-fil-A said Muller-Moore's effort to expand the use of his "eat more kale" message "is likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A's intellectual property and diminishes its value."
Chick-fil-A, which trails only Louisville, Ky.-based KFC in market share in the chicken restaurant chain industry, has a long history of guarding its trademark, and the letter listed 30 examples of attempts by others to co-opt the use of the "eat more" phrase that were withdrawn after Chick-fil-A protested. The Oct. 4 letter ordered Muller-Moore to stop using the phrase and turn over his website, eatmorekale.com, to Chick-fil-A.
Muller-Moore, 38, of Montpelier, says he won't do that.
"Our plan is to not back down. This feels like David versus Goliath. I know what it's like to protect what's yours in business," he said.
So he has enlisted the help of Montpelier lawyer Daniel Richardson and the intellectual property clinic at the University of New Hampshire School of Law's Intellectual Property and Transaction Clinic.
"Bo's is a very different statement. It's more of a philosophical statement about local agriculture and community-supported farmers markets," Richardson said. "At the end of the day, I don't think anyone will step forward and say they bought an 'eat more kale' shirt thinking it was a Chick-fil-A product."
Chick-fil-A spokesman Don Perry said the company does not comment on pending legal matters.
Muller-Moore, who describes himself as a folk artist who earns a living working as a foster parent for an adult with special needs, said he started using the phrase "eat more kale" in 2000. A farmer friend who grows kale, a leafy vegetable that grows well in Vermont and is known for its nutritional value, asked Muller-Moore to make three T-shirts containing the phrase for his family for $10 each.
A few weeks later, the friend told Muller-Moore that people kept asking for the shirts. The phrase helped him get his silkscreen business going, which he later expanded through the Internet. Now, he prints "eat more kale" on hooded sweatshirts too. And he has the words printed on bumper stickers that are common throughout central Vermont.
Five years ago, Muller-Moore said, he received a similar cease-and-desist letter from Chick-fil-A, telling him to stop using the phase. A pro bono lawyer traded a handful of letters with Chick-fil-A on his behalf. After the letters stopped, Muller-Moore assumed the issue had been decided in his favor and kept making the products.
But as his business grew, Muller-Moore decided to protect the phrase that became his unofficial trademark. He filed an application last summer with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect "eat more kale." The application is pending.
Vermont Law School professor Oliver Goodenough, who specializes in intellectual and property law, said the kale versus "chikin" fight reminded him of a case two years ago, when a Morrisville microbrewer that makes a beer called "Vermonster" ran afoul of the Monster energy drink company. That case was settled when the makers of Vermonster agreed never to go into the energy drink business.
Goodenough said there was little likelihood consumers would confuse kale with chicken.
"This looks a bit like an example of over-enthusiasm for brand protection," he said. "There are (law) firms in the United States that take this over-enthusiasm for brand protection seriously and believe the more they can scare away the better. If folks aren't deeply committed to this and it's a funny byproduct, maybe they won't fight it."