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Milk slogan parody udder nonsense?

December 13, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Got a problem with milk? Better not rip off the industry's well-known marketing slogan to express it.

Milk processors are demanding that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals end a publicity campaign that asks, "Got pus? Milk does."

PETA, which advocates a dairy-free diet, has plastered the slogan on T-shirts, mugs and other merchandise to draw attention to what it says are dangerous levels of somatic cells -- pus -- in much of the milk sold in this country.

The pus gets there because of an udder infection called mastitis that can inflict cows raised for their milk, PETA says.

The California Milk Processor Board, which owns the "Got Milk?" trademark, has laughed off countless knockoffs, including "Got Fleas?" and "Got Freud?" The board even has welcomed some as boosting publicity for milk. But the board contends that there is no truth to the pus claims and that PETA is violating the campaign's trademark.

"Milk is one of the most regulated, tested and therefore safest products that consumers can buy," said Steve James, the milk board's executive director. "Pasteurization has been required for almost a century in order to remove harmful organisms and bacteria so it's safe for human biology."

In a letter provided by PETA to the Associated Press, lawyers for the milk processor board demand that PETA immediately cease the Got Pus? campaign and, by this Saturday, turn over any remaining merchandise along with profits. If PETA fails to comply, the milk board will sue, the letter says.

PETA's lawyers planned to reply in a letter today that would dismiss the trademark infringement allegation as "entirely without merit."

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