Monday, February 28, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I don't know how many of you have heard, but the Dervaes family in Pasadena, California of Path To Freedom fame, whom I greatly admire for their accomplishments, have trademarked several phrases, 2 of which are "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading." In addition to trademarking the phrases, they have begun to send out Cease and Desist letters to blog owners, non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses, etc. that use those phrases in their titles, asking them to change their names, and, yesterday, they had Facebook take down every page that used the phrase "urban homesteading" in its page name.
Needless to say, this has caused quite a stir in the urban homesteading community. I think it's safe to say that they have outraged a large portion of their fan base.
Some facts. While the Dervaes Institute trademarked the phrase "urban homesteading," the trademark examiner only allowed it to be put on what's called the Supplemental Register. While this is still a trademark, it is a much weaker trademark than that found on the Principal Register because it means the Federal Trademark Office doubts that it will hold up in court (my words, not theirs). The examiner even commented on the fact that urban homesteading is a way of life, not an entity to trademark. It means that the term can still be used by anyone and the Dervaes Institute will have to decide if they think it's worth it to attempt to enforce it in court. To enforce it, they would have to prove that they are synonymous with the phrase--that when someone uses the words "urban homesteading," they immediately think of the Dervaes family.
My thoughts on the matter. I think what they should have trademarked was the phrase "Path To Freedom Urban Homestead." That's it. That's what we all know them as. They claim on their website that they did it to protect the term, that they felt that some people were abusing it just to make money. If this is the reason they did it, why then would they ask urban homesteading bloggers and non-profits to take down their blogs and websites? Why would they have Facebook take down the pages of the people who are living and teaching the lifestyle Path To Freedom promotes? In their own words, taken from a blog post from Anais yesterday:
So what exactly is it that the Dervaes family does differently? Are their raised beds different from mine or anyone else's? Did they create organic gardening? Do they plant seeds differently? What exactly is it that they are claiming ownership of?"We are a nonprofit group that has promoted urban homesteading and asked that people use our urban homestead example in their own lives. However, as with most any book and/or publication, and as stated on the bottom of all our websites, the information and content contained on our online book is copyrighted."
So what do you think about this?