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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Can't Call It That Anymore

The book I'm currently reading and plan to review for you is one that I'm finally getting around to, The Urban Homestead, by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen.  Prima facie, it looks like it's going to be a good book, but regardless of which way the review goes, I'm not sure you'll be able to buy it much longer.  Even though they originally published years ago (I'm reading the 2010 edition, but I think they originally published in 2007), they may not be able to sell it shortly. It looks like the Dervaes family of Pasadena has trademarked the words 'urban homestead' and 'urban homesteading'.  I've read they've already sent cease and desist letters to a public library that was offering  urban homesteading classes and Facebook has shut down many Facebook pages once they were informed of the trademark.  I can't seem to find any real concrete facts about what happened, but I can report that there is quite the brouhaha brewing over this turn of events, and folks are plenty angry about it, and rightly so.

Trademarking is supposed to be a way of protecting a product, and I can see the sense in wanting to protect something like, oh say, Barbie tm.  But urban homesteading is not a product; it's an idea, or a concept.  What if King Gillette all those years ago trademarked the term 'close shave'?  How would we describe the idea of a close shave without using 'close shave'?  In this day and age, someone can trademark the term, and then no one will be able to use the two words together to sell razor blades or any other shaving product.  That's how this trademarking crap works. And from what I understand, nothing gets grandfathered with trademarking, which is why I'm afraid that Coyne and Knutzen may be ordered to stop selling their book.

I think that the real shame in all of this lies with a judicial system that allows entities to trademark or patent things that should remain in the public domain, like ideas or concepts, rather than just sticking to products that they actually own.

It's a shame also that the Dervaeses felt compelled to take out these trademarks which are earning them incredible enmity from a wide audience.  Oh, and by they way, I think I have to properly credit them with urban homesteading and link to them to make sure I don't get myself in trouble.  I'm not even sure that will work.  Let me be clear that I am not trying to make any money with the two words used together; I'm just trying to point out that it's a sad thing in this country when a concept gets trademarked so that others can't use it. It's also sad that just when a movement was starting to really get off the ground, someone who you'd think would be nurturing the movement and leading the way, seems to want to monopolize it, which is a sure way to slow it down, if not grind it to a halt.

I used to be able to think of myself as an urban homesteader, but not anymore.

Oh wait!  I don't think they trademarked 'urban homesteader'!  I might just be alright here.

I'm not even sure how I feel about all this.   Just one more thing in a long list of wrongs.

This was another wrong.

9 comments:

Marianne said...

well, yes, annoying and destructive. But for me part of living more simply is not to rise to this sort of lunacy. I deserve better than to take this seriously and spend the whole day angry and so do you. Let them have their satisfaction and just use different words. We don't use the term you mentioned over here. You can call the concept anything you like. Just be a City Pioneer or something like that.

Rick said...

Could not agree more. What the hell people ! Sounds like they just want to make some money off it somehow. You're total on target with "Just one more thing is a long list ..."

Dawn Dutton said...

This is so crazy I am not even sure what to say... I guess the only thing is that it makes me sad..... Let us know what you think of the book....

Rae said...

I'm just astounded that they were able to trademark something that is already so commonly used. Insane.

Toni aka irishlas said...

It's a sad state of affairs when you start "trademarking" a lifestyle.

Just another example of what I call the "me, myself, and I" syndrome.

Miriam said...

I'm appalled - this is just ridiculous. I don't understand how this was allowed to happen. And I am sad and disgusted that the pursuit of a buck led a groundbreaking family to this. Awful. Just awful.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Funny you should mention this. Just this week, I caught wind of it.

But take comfort -- by earning the enmity of the community they were trying to connect with (and make money from), they're probably sinking their own ship. I'm ignoring them.

Joleen said...

I'm upset about this too. I've followed the Dervaes family for a long time and I've been quite disappointed for the last few months and have been feeling like they're moving away from their simple living/homesteading life and becomming very commercial. Now this. It makes me kind of sad.

Joleen said...

I've been following the Dervaes family for a long time and lately I've been disappointed because they seem to be changing and becomming much more commercial and moving further from their simple lifestyle. I'm upset about the trademark issue too.