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Got Lawsuit? Mom’s Handmade Baby Shirts vs. California Milk Processors

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This month, California Milk Processors filed a lawsuit against a mom who decorated shirts with “Got Breastmilk?”, a take on the national “Got Milk” campaign.

Mountntop Designs & Baby Bugs Clothing, run by Barbara Holmes out of her home in Alaska sells adorable tie-dye and batik baby clothes. I especially like her “Don’t Moose With Me” shirts. But a “Got Breast Milk?” shirt is what caught the attention of the California Milk Processor Board, the entity behind the “Got Milk” campaign.

The board filed a lawsuit claiming that Homles’ shirts would confuse consumers. They demanded that Holmes cease selling the shirts, and to ship the board all the t-shirts, onesies and equipment used to make them, as well as an accounting of any profits, “to avoid resorting to litigation.”

Barbara hired her own lawyer and sent a letter back to the board, defending herself as a pro-nursing advocate, and that her right to parody the “Got Milk?” slogan is protected under the free speech provisions of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

She says “They say I’m going to confuse milk consumers. How can you get confused between a boob and a bottle of milk from the store? They’re two different kind of jugs.”

Well, quite, although I might not put it exactly like that in court. Hopefully it will never go that far. The board has written letters to other mommy businesses making similar shirts, including a mom in Oregon, who never heard back from the board after the first letter.

“Got Milk” parodies are very popular, there’s over 4,000 “Got Milk” inspired shirts, hats and baby clothes at CafePress, including ones that concern me more than the breast milk shirts. How about “Got Kalashnikov” and “Got Crack” – which you can buy printed on a bib. Why anyone would want one of those confuses me much more than the difference between cow milk and breast milk.

Could I suggest that the California Milk Processing board’s lawyers, who of course have the right to protect their trademark, refocus their attention to the more disturbing uses of their slogan?


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