Friday, February 18, 2011

A Wee Little Rant

I feel like Shane and I are on the verge of becoming urban (or suburban) homesteaders. We grow a sizeable garden, make our own soap, and I think the addition of a few chickens in our backyard -- which we are strongly considering -- would be all it would take for us to be comfortable calling ourselves homesteaders - urban, suburban or otherwise.

Now I find out that, if one California family has their way, just using the term urban homesteading in my blog posts would be a trademark infringement.  In the grand scheme of things, this issue is very small, but it's important to a growing number of folks in this country.

The family in question (I won't send them traffic by linking) is trying to get a legal trademark on the phrase "urban homestead", going so far as to send cease and desist letters to other small urban farmers with blogs and requesting that Facebook remove their FB pages.  Nevermind that the phrase has been in public use since the 1970s, and possibly as far back as the 1800s.  Never mind that the phrase refers to a lifestyle and not a product or service.  To try to trademark the phrases "urban homestead", "urban homesteader", "urban homesteading" seems to me to be based on greed and an incorrect understanding of trademark usage.  It also seems to go against the spirit of the urban homesteading movement.

I don't think the family in question has a case that would hold up in court, but through the powers of social networking, a movement has started to stop them in their tracks.  Using creative punctuation, a Facebook page has been created, called Take Back Urban Home-steading(s).

So far, the page has not been taken down by Facebook, and it has been "Liked" by nearly 2500 users in just a couple of days.  I understand there is also similar activity going on at Twitter (I don't use Twitter, so I'm not sure.)

Again, I know this isn't the most important issue going on in the world right now, but it's one that is personally important to me.  I'd appreciate if you'd take a look at the the FB page above, get the whole scoop on what's going on and why, and show your support by liking the page, too.  Urban homesteaders, whether already established or those still aspiring, like me, will thank you.


Mark said...

I joined!
My neighbor, down the street, raises chickens in her back yard. It's such a treat to see them. I wrote about it back in early January, I think.
Now go get some piece of mind.
Your Friend, m.

Leanne said...

I've joined too. What an utter load! Wouldn't you think they'd be busy enough between animals and gardens and whatnot without finding the time for all this faff? Mind you it's for the same reason that we now "Greencycle" in NI.

I would love to have a couple of chickens but I think we're possibly just a wee bit too urban and have too little space, plus there are a hell of a lot of cats in our neighbourhood and even if the chooks were in a run they'd probably still be frightened half to death by the cats. I very very nearly took a couple of rescue hens last year only a more suitable home was found for them beforehand. I do knit jumpers for them though.

Annie Jones said...

Thanks to those who've shown support (I know there are more than just the two who have commented).

There is a lot of drama on that FB page, and I want to be clear that's not what I'm supporting. I had never heard of the family who is trying to trademark nor viewed their website. They're unknown to me.

I just know there could come a day when I want to sell "Annie's Urban Homestead" products or use it as a new name for this blog, and if they get a legitimate trademark, I won't be able to do that.

Also, in trying to read through all the posts (many, many posts), I am finding other bloggers who can be a great resource to Shane and I as we do whatever it is we do here on our "mini-stead".

And @Leanne, is that Greencycle to replace Freecycle? And do you really knit sweaters for hens? Curious minds want to know.

McVal said...

That family is so stupid! That's like the rumor that Paris Hilton wanted to patent the words "So Hot." Might as well patent, "ticked off blogger" Will be joining the cause today.

Flying Giggles and Lollipops said...

Now, that is just ridiculous. I wouldn't link to their site either, no need to send them traffic!

Shelli said...

That's just ridiculous. It's like someone trademarking "snowboarders" or "home health care workers". Or anything similar. It's ridiculous. I'll like it. :)

Lisa B. said...

Annie the way I understood it was they (the california family) already trademarked the term "Urban Homestead" in 2010 and are now suing Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen; authors of "The Urban Homestead" (a book I've been meaning to get. They have a great blog at

The thing about it is the book was wrote and published in 2008. TWO YEARS BEFORE this family trademarked the term.

This is CRAZY (in my opinion). Number one how can the authors be held liable for something they did TWO YEARS BEFORE the other people trademarked the term.... AND number two: how did the California family get such a term/phrase trademarked?

I'll be watching this with ya, I liked the page on facebook and I am going to see what I can find on twitter.

Lisa B. said...

Annie that family has several trademarked words/terms/phrases. Here is an excerpt from one of their notices:

In addition, DI owns numerous trademarks which should be properly acknowledged if used. These protected names and images include the following registered trademarks:

•Also, THE TEN ELEMENTS OF URBAN HOMSTEADING copyright has been filed with the Library of Congress.

I don't understand how they were able to trademark a phrase, but I think they took it too far as far as having people's facebook, twitter and blogs shut down.

Frances said...

It is ridiculous that they have been able to trademark a term that has been in use for years. I am not and urban homesteader, but I have heard the term for many years. That family did not create it.