OK, tell me this isn’t just a perfect example of how lawyers must not be thinking (but ought to) about public relations while they do their jobs. Yesterday Legal Blog Watch reported on the dismay of an Alaskan artist whose “Got Breastmilk?” t-shirts and onesies promoted infant health, when she received a cease and desist order from the California Milk Processors Board’s law firm pointing out the potential infringement of the “Got Milk?” slogan.

The woman had sold six items. Couple of years ago. Lord only knows how the Board found out, maybe someone saw a t-shirt recently on a local street or beach. Maybe the lawyer took it as another opportunity to prove his value-add when, on sighting the shirt, he managed to find out who had manufactured it and how to contact that person. Seems like that must have taken a bit of effort, after all, two years had gone by since the original painted lettering of the clothing. Was the corollary information about the sales too much of a step to take? Was the principal of health promotion too difficult to see as a valid public interest? Was it too hard to get the joke?

Working in the interests of a client requires lawyers operate with a wide view of the world, without blinders. Every act of imitation has its own context. Is this a company deliberately stealing the intellectual property of the CMPB for its own profit and gain? Write the letter and pursue the claim. Is this a gentle parody for the sake of nursing an interest in healthy motherhood and babies? A thank you note would be appropriate.

Doesn’t take a lot of effort to imagine the public relations benefit of that.