The California Milk Processor Board (also known as the CMPB or the California Fluid Milk Processor Advisory Board), home of the “Got Milk?” cow’s milk advertising campaign, is a collection of companies marketing cow’s milk and infant formula products in the USA.
In July this year, the Board’s lawyers heavied Alaskan crafter mum Barbara Holmes for making ten “Got Breastmilk?” T-shirts in her Alaskan kitchen. The charge? Trademark violation. The board claimed to be concerned – very concerned, you understand – that the buyers of these toddler tees might get all confused between the cow’s milk they bought in a two-quart jug from the supermarket, and the milk that came out of their own breasts.
The Board also threatened Ariel Gore at Hip Mama earlier this year. (Follow the link – read her reply.)
There are hundreds of Google hits for the “got breastmilk” phrase. A search comes up with a whole lot of different current uses, in both non-profit advocacy and commerce. These include:
* collaborative art and advocacy project Project Got Breastmilk;
* the Got Breastmilk breastfeeding information website and support forum (no longer operating) which dates to 2003; and
* a Texas Lactation consultancy business I Got Breastmilk, which has been a registered URL since 2003.
So what’s the latest from the Big Cows, Big Lawyers Board? Valerie McClain of Human Milk Patent Pending reports that the California Milk Processor Board applied for a trademark on the term “Got Breastmilk?” on September 9, 2008:
Two registrations: #77565484 and 77565459.
Written on the registrations are, “G & S [Goodes & Services]: promoting awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies.
The Board has absolutely no commercial interest in promoting breastfeeding. Promoting breastfeeding would, in fact, be in direct conflict their commercial interests.
So why do you think an advertiser for the infant formula and cow’s milk industry is just now trying to trademark a term that has been in common use amongst breastfeeding advocates and supporters for years?
I call shenanigans.