MONTPELIER, Vt. – A Vermont folk artist who built a T-shirt business around the term “eat more kale” said Monday the U.S. Trademark and Patent office has given him a “preliminary no” in his legal fight to protect the term that sparked a legal battle with the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain.

But Bo Muller-Moore of Montpelier said he has six months to respond to the ruling.

Muller-Moore said he had expected to learn more Monday about his ongoing fight to trademark the phrase “eat more kale.”

The fast-food giant Chick-fil-A objected to his efforts in the fall of 2011 because the company said it could be confused with their trademarked phrase “eat mor chikin.”

The legal battle for the term prompted Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin to say in December 2011 the state would do all it could to help Muller-Moore in his battle with Chick-fil-A.

Muller-Moore’s attorney Daniel Richardson of Montpelier said an official with the Trademark and Patent office thought the two phrases could be confused.

Chick-fil-A did not respond Monday to an emailed request for comment.