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Urban Homesteaders® beware! yep, you read that little trademark symbol right, apparently that particular term, along with Urban Homesteading® is now trademarked by the Dervaes family, the creators of the Path to Freedom® blog and owners of The most productive 1/5 of an acre lot I’ve ever heard of! Now before we get into a bashing session here, I must say that I greatly admire what Mr. Dervaes and his family are doing, they set a great example for urbanites and rural homesteaders alike (I can say that one without getting griped at:), as far as how to grow as much food as possible on the least amount of land available, this is a valiant experiment into the growing food production problem our world is currently facing. What I don’t find as valiant is the claim they seem to have made on such a wonderful expression of freedom and community driven innovation. I can see the point of trademarking the name of their blog (which they have), even the name of their homestead (also trademarked, I believe), mainly because they thought up those particular word combinations, but I’m pretty sure the term Urban Homesteader® has been in circulation since the early 1980’s. Since then many organizations, communities, magazines, websites and bloggers in particular have penned those two words together to represent self sufficiency, sustainability and most of all, because they’re being experienced in an urban setting….community. Now, however, it seems that if an individual wishes to write about the wonders, benefits and innovations created in the field of homesteading in a city-like setting, they must refer the reader to the writings and more importantly the products and services of PathtoFreedom® .com. I wonder if they realize that many (myself included) homesteading, gardening and sustainability bloggers already do this?
Many organizations and writers, such as The Institute of Urban Homesteading, have already received an e-mail notifying them that they must now change their name. Others have received “suggestions” that they no longer use the term when referring to….well…an Urban Homestead® ! Instead they could use terms like “urban sustainability project” or perhaps “modern homesteading”(which, to me, could refer to any homesteading project, such as what are attempting, and we own almost ten acres right in the middle of RuralVille!). Here is a small snippet of what these e-mails and letters people are receiving have to say:
“Dervaes Institute owns numerous trademarks which should be properly acknowledged if used. These protected names and images include the following registered trademarks:
URBAN HOMESTEAD®
URBAN HOMESTEADING®
PATH TO FREEDOM®
GROW THE FUTURE®
HOMEGROWN REVOLUTION®
FREEDOM GARDENS®
LITTLE HOMESTEAD IN THE CITY® (pending)
Also, THE TEN ELEMENTS OF URBAN HOMSTEADING copyright has been filed with the Library of Congress.
If your use of one of these phrases is not to specifically identify products or services from the Dervaes Institute, then it would be proper to use generic terms to replace the registered trademark you are using. For example, when discussing general homesteading or other people’s projects, they should be referred to using terms such as ‘modern homesteading,’ ‘urban sustainability projects,’ or similar descriptions.”

I’m not sure why “Little Homestead in the City” is going to be trademarked, are they just trying to cover all of the bases? Perhaps I should trademark Rural Homestead or even Makehift Homesteading, no ones done it yet after all;)! The whole ordeal just seems a little to selfish an act to be performed in such a time when open information and sharing is so important to the ultimate goal of community sustainability and freedom from an oil based food economy.
If you feel the need to bring this term back into the hands of the public, Change.org has a petition created by Sundari Elizabeth Kraft, author of the upcoming book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading, to cancel the trademarks on their website.
What do you think? Should the term be writable by all without the need to refer the reader to another website? Is this fair to the organizations who have already used the phrase in their very title? Leave a comment below, tell us your thoughts on this very strange situation!

Gwenevere

P.S. Its also kind of annoying to keep having to add that little symbol! Can we get it removed on the grounds of annoyance alone:)?

 

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