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Dervaes Family "Urban Homestead" Trademark Debacle

David Galloway


Joined: Jan 09, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Greenville, SC
Paul and other Moderators - if this is too political or divisive for these forums, please lock or delete the thread.  But I think it it's an important topic that has not been mentioned yet at Permies.

Pasadena's Dervaes Family Trademarks the Terms 'Urban Homestead' and 'Urban Homesteading,' Now Cracking Down on Bloggers



UPDATED, 10:50 P.M. Those dingbat Dervaeses won't give up. Rather than take their licking and apologize to the authors, bloggers, and libraries who dared use the term "urban homestead" or "urban homesteading," they're still blogging and trying to justify the unjustifiable: the cutthroat capitalism that the supposedly progressive family is employing.

They've gone as far as to sanctimoniously lecture the world on their website (you'll have to look it up, because no way in hell I'm linking to them) since the controversy broke about the intricacies of trademark law to, as they put it, "cut through the mob of misinformation...of course, urban homesteading  is 'old' but we used it in a new and unique way and that is what is registered."

Actually, no. The Dervaeses aren't just going after people who have ripped off their writings (a perfectly legitimate legal move, mind you) but ANYONE using the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading."


Meanwhile, a Facebook group called "Take Back Urban Home-Steading(s)" has already found 639 members (and counting), all outraged that the dingbat Dervaeses dared trademarked their philosophy of living. They are posting pictures of chicken coops and jars of preserves--LOVE IT. Congrats, Dervaeses--you have inspired a new movement, devoted to laughing at you!

Last update on this thread--new, original reporting mañana. I need to take care of my Apartment Homestead® with my chica.

More updates--and for those who don't know what the hell is going on, the full story--after the jump.


UPDATED, 3:39 P.M.: The Dervaeses have responded by saying this controversy is really just a conspiracy by critics. "It's a false, made up claim that people are jumping over themselves to make us look bad," blogs Anais Dervaes, before giving everyone the courtesy of publishing the cease-and-desist letter they're sending around to bloggers and libraries. The letter actually has suggestions for people to stop using the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading"!

"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," the letter states. "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."
Nice--not only are they faux hippies, but now they want to play the Though Police. WEAK SAUCE.


UPDATED, 2:15 P.M.: Harriet Ells, producer for KCRW-FM 89.9's Good Food With Evan Kleiman (for which I contribute) just tweeted that the Dervaeses sent them a cease-and-desist letter because they used the term in a blog post. The irony of this, of course, is that Kleiman joined the family for a meal last summer as part of an episode for Private Chefs of Beverly Hills. They also sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Santa Monica Public Library because the library hosted a free event on urban homesteading. What douches!

ORIGINAL POST, 12:27 P.M.: For the past couple of years, the Dervaes family has garnered national attention for turning its Pasadena home into a veritable Garden of Eden, using every square inch to grow food. It has become an icon in the slow-food movement--but the family is now being vilified, and rightfully so.

In October of last year, the Dervaeses successfully registered the terms "Urban Homestead" and "Urban Homesteading" with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. But only in the past couple of weeks have they been sending cease-and-desist letters to organizations and blogs using the terms without their permission, successfully asking Facebook to shut down groups using those terms as their name. Just yesterday, they knocked down the Facebook page of the Institute of Urban Homesteading, an Oakland-based workshop that teaches people how to can and preserve.

The issue is starting to rile up urban homesteaders, and the Dervaeses are already equipped for haters--but with rather ridiculous logic. On their website, they answer critics by claiming they're actually saving the term from evil capitalists. "You tell us. . . . Who would you rather own the trademarks? Us or a big business corporation?"

And for you bloggers who want to use the terms as a noun or a verb? According to their website:

If you aren't using it to make money and are simply documenting your life or sharing your information, this would only require that you update your websites and articles to properly cite our works and properly acknowledge if used. When using these trademarked terms, the proper way to go about it is as follows:

Proper trademark usage should include the proper trademark notice [®], use the protected phrase in all capital letters, and note in close proximity that the term is a protected trademark of Dervaes Institute.

Real from-the-land there, Dervaeses. Tools.

The term "urban homestead" has been documented in newspaper reports since at least the 1980s.


"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1760
    
    3
Greed Greed Greed

What is happening to our world. . . . .
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Disgusting!  I suppose some lawyers may make some money if anyone has any to use for lawsuits and the inevitable appeals and the trip to the upper courts.  Maybe some lawyers will pro bono?

David Galloway


Joined: Jan 09, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Greenville, SC
It's crazy isn't it? 

A week ago if someone asked me for a list of my Agriheroes (TM), Jules Dervaes would have been up there with Sepp Holzer, Joel Salatin, Bill Mollison, Mel Bartholomew, Masonobu Fukoaka, Jack Spirko, and our own esteemed Paul. 

This incident has left a bad taste in my mouth.  I have deleted my account on their forums and plan on buying a copy of the Urban Homestead book they sent legal notification to in protest.  I urge anyone else who feels the same way to do the same. 
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1311
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
Quick!!! Permastead doesn't appear to be copyrighted.


"There is enough in the world for everyones needs, but not enough for everyones greed"
(Buckman)
T. Joy


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 438
They are denying it. Is there actually any proof? I hope so, otherwise this is so pathetic.
David Galloway


Joined: Jan 09, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Greenville, SC
There's a lot of proof from what I'm reading.

Here's the DMCA "Cease and Desist" sent by the Dervaes' to Google asking them to remove the Amazon.com rankings of the Urban Homestead book I mentioned above.  That book was published before the Dervaes' filed the trademark claim, btw.  One blog commenter put it well when he stated:

"As I read the first part of the take down notice, I saw nothing wrong with what they were saying: “If you quote us, do it right. and Don’t twist what we say and Don’t steal from us.”

Hey nothing wrong with that, but then…they go and demand that people stop using special tearms they put trademarks on that are common usage words? Then to demand that Amazon de-list a book writen before they applied for trademark? Just wrong."

As per this this article in the San Francisco Bay Citizen several people have received letters from the Dervaes stating that their use of "Urban Homestead" and "Freedom Garden" is in violation of their trademarked intellectual property.  Among them are K Ruby Blume (founder of Institute of Urban Homesteading), Kelly Coyne and Eric Knutzen (authors of Urban Homesteading book cited above), a Santa Monica farmers market, and a journalist who had hosted panel discussions using the term.

A couple of quotes from that article:

But the Dervaes family didn’t stop at the letter. After receiving the letter, Blume logged onto Facebook to find that her access to the institute’s page had been blocked. And she was not alone: all pages that used the terms had removed from Facebook, including the 2,000+ member page of Denver Urban Homesteading, another small, local business which seemed to pose no clear competition to the Dervaes’ operation.


On the phone this afternoon Jules Dervaes acknowledged sending the letter to 16 organizationsand businesses (including two publishers), and requesting that the Fabecook pages be taken down. He did want to clarify that – contrary to some rumors – he has not gone after blogs or individuals. “They're all commercial ventures that rival us,” he said. Because the Dervaeses travel often for workshops and talks, he says, the trademark is applicable outside of their hometown of Los Angeles.

Mr. Dervaes is concerned that his intent has been blown out of proportion by challengers, and says “We didn’t come up the name but we came up with the application.” He says his family spent three years convincing the United States Patent and Trademark Office that their use of the term was unique, and had to appeal several times because it was so similar to “urban home,” a previously trademarked term.

“If someone else would have done it first, all my work of ten years would be in jeopardy,” he adds. “We didn’t mean to bully anyone. These marks are what people do to make sure no one infringes on their ideas – they’re to give people who develop something protection. That’s why people like Apple and Nike do it. We did what other normal people would have done.”



If you go to the Facebook Group Take Back Urban Homesteading  People have posted screenshots of their C& letters from the Dervaes family.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1760
    
    3
Did you sign this petition?  They only need a few more

http://www.change.org/petitions/cancel-trademarks-on-urban-homestead-and-urban-homesteading#signatures
David Galloway


Joined: Jan 09, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Greenville, SC
Jami McBride wrote:
Did you sign this petition?  They only need a few more

http://www.change.org/petitions/cancel-trademarks-on-urban-homestead-and-urban-homesteading#signatures


I signed the petition, deleted my account at FreedomGardens, and will no longer buy their seeds or products.
T. Joy


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 438
Signed and passed along. Very, very strange this. Who could have approved it? Do they not look these things up before giving people sole rights to them? And how can they tell me in Canada what I may or may not call what I do? I simply don't recognize American law and that's that. They can stick it in their ear. 
maikeru sumi-e


Joined: Dec 14, 2010
Posts: 312
Other people have been doing this and using "something something homesteading" way before I knew about this family. They'll learn how quick the lawyers will bleed them and their franchise dry. Long live the real homesteaders and permies.


.
Chris Fitt


Joined: Jan 10, 2011
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
Reminds me of the Wal-Mart trying to unsuccessfully trademark the smiley face .  I wonder what the difference is in this case.  It seems like since they did not invent the term, they would not be able to hold exclusive rights to it.

Wolves in Hippie clothing.
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1311
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
I'm a strong proponent of intelectual property but personally I think this goes a bit far.
Reminds me of Paris Hilton trademarking "That's Hot"............. ridiculous.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5318
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
This makes me incredibly sad.  I have been promoting the Dervaes family work for years.  Now I don't know if I want to anymore. 


Idle dreamer

Jorja Hernandez


Joined: Jan 23, 2011
Posts: 78
Kinda smacks of when celebrities start buying into their own publicity and completely loose their grip on reality. 

Jack Spirko brought this up on his most recent podcast too. (Episode 60. http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
Can I trademark the name Dervaes and sue them for using it?

I get the impression that they are a really weird bunch. I was super excited about their stuff when I first saw them, but the more I saw of them the less I liked them. The straw was hearing there daughter Jordan talk in a video, speech impediments are pretty common and do real damage to you, I know, I have one (a lisp that has been under control since I was 11). How do you let your daughter grow up with one and not do anything about it? That's not responsible parenting.
Jamie Jackson


Joined: Dec 04, 2010
Posts: 185
Location: Zone 5b - 6a, Missouri Ozarks
Robert Ray wrote:
Quick!!! Permastead doesn't appear to be copyrighted.




I like the ring of that! 


Help support our homestead by checking out the "Health and Garden/ The Essential Herbal Magazine" on our blog: www.MissouriHerbs.com
David Galloway


Joined: Jan 09, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Greenville, SC
A guy on the TSP forums who is upset about this situation has sounded forth a challenge:

"Like I said in an earlier post in this thread, they have not only angered me, but also inspired me. 2011lbs for 2011. They aren't that impressive anymore..."  source

Anyone else up for this challenge?  We can up our game and show that the De®vaes' aren't so special. 

Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1311
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
Interesting idea the challenge. Perhaps another thread to monitor progress?
David Galloway


Joined: Jan 09, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Greenville, SC
Looks like the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Intellectual Property Division is on the case:

https://www.eff.org/files/LTTDervaes.pdf
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1760
    
    3
They are going to loose more due to public opinion than they would have made in copyrighting those public words.

Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1311
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
It's curious to me that  the "Urban Homestead" website identifies itself as a "non-commercial family operated venture" and asks that visitors "pay it forward".  Ideas that to me are completely contrary to the exclusivity that trademarking implies.
tipafo Hatfield


Joined: Jan 26, 2011
Posts: 47
Location: Colorado, Zone 5, Cold Semi-arid
This  sums up the whole mess, imo:

Mr. Dervaes is concerned that his intent has been blown out of proportion by challengers, and says “We didn’t come up the name but we came up with the application.” He says his family spent three years convincing the United States Patent and Trademark Office that their use of the term was unique, and had to appeal several times because was so similar to “urban home,” a previously trademarked term.


To me, if it takes three years and several attempts to trademark something, it should be obvious that that something shouldn't be trademark-able.

I'm disgusted by their actions, particularly the base action of trademarking these terms in the first place.  If they were truly concerned about Corporate America co-opting these terms, as they've done with "organic" and "natural", then the Dervaes should have used the Creative Commons licensing procedure, thus ensuring that like-minded people could use these terms without threat from Big Business.  That they didn't convinces me of their true motives -- greed and control.

A sad day.
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
You cannot creative commons a trademark.
tipafo Hatfield


Joined: Jan 26, 2011
Posts: 47
Location: Colorado, Zone 5, Cold Semi-arid
My mistake, then. 

Doesn't change their status as assholes.
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
Yeah, they are. There suing over a book that was published before their trademark was awarded is kindof proof that there goal wasn't to stop corporate entities from using it.
travis laduke


Joined: Jul 20, 2010
Posts: 163
I guess they should have waited until they obtained full permaculture demigod status before they tried to enforce their intellectual property .
David Galloway


Joined: Jan 09, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Greenville, SC
travis laduke wrote:
I guess they should have waited until they obtained full permaculture demigod status before they tried to enforce their intellectual property .


Not in the least; What they should have done is have actual intellectual property to trademark before doing so. 

Or, as this Mother Jones columnist puts it:


Anyway, the irony of these folks claiming to have invented, and now own, the concept of self-sufficiency is just too blatant even to comment on. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going out to my backyard™ where I'm planning to build a chicken coop™ so I can have some eggs™ .
T. Joy


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 438
How ridiculous would it be if they plagerized another author to describe what it is that they even do?
That's exactly what happened though. The original author is asking for this to be passed around so feel free to repost it everywhere.

http://www.myearthgarden.com/2011/03/how-the-dervaes-family-stole-my-victory-garden/
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5318
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
It just gets worse and worse. 
tipafo Hatfield


Joined: Jan 26, 2011
Posts: 47
Location: Colorado, Zone 5, Cold Semi-arid
Geez, the sleaze oozes on .... 

I wonder if ABC's Nightline has heard of this scandal.

Terry Moran should do a follow up piece on these scumbums.
Ms Minuette


Joined: Nov 16, 2010
Posts: 45
I'm sorry but, weren't "Victory Gardens" &  "Freedom Gardens" most active in WW II? Even I knew about "Freedom Gardens" from the "Hippy Vietnam Protesters" I knew in the late 60's. How can that be a current term subject to trademark? I followed suit & signed the pettition. Are we able to purchase the "Urban Homesteading" book under attack through Amazon so this forum gets a kickback? I kinda like the thought of a double duty protest purchase! If not- is it still available? How can a book come under scrutiny if it was published before a trademark was established? I just don't understand it.
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
They stole what the victory garden guy had written, they did not bully him out with a trademark.

I went to their site, they said that they weren't suing bloggers, which is a total red herring because all the furor is over them suing a book author.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5318
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I hadn't heard they had actually sued anyone, just that they had sent intimidating letters to people...
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
Correct
maikeru sumi-e


Joined: Dec 14, 2010
Posts: 312
craftylittlemonkey wrote:
How ridiculous would it be if they plagerized another author to describe what it is that they even do?
That's exactly what happened though. The original author is asking for this to be passed around so feel free to repost it everywhere.

http://www.myearthgarden.com/2011/03/how-the-dervaes-family-stole-my-victory-garden/


That's terrible! They should compensate him. I've seen his book for sale on Amazon.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 5819
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
  86
Since "The Urban Homestead" was published AND copyrighted in 2008, I fail to see how anybody can claim a ™ issued in 2011 could have any power over the term's use (while it was in the public domain).  The family is quickly losing any credibility it had.
Their moment of fame will be erased by a future of shame.
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
It was not in the public domain before. The argument behind trademarks is that they do not exist until you establish them. Copywritten material can be passed into the public domain (which is like a black hole for any kind of protective measure, nothing ever comes out), and a disused trademark can released from protection.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5318
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
More information about this issue:

http://www.denverurbanhomesteading.org/

"What is special about Urban Homesteading trademark? It is registered in Supplemental Register.

According to 15USC §1094 applications for and registrations on the supplemental register shall not be subject to or receive the advantages of sections 1051(b), 1052(e), 1052(f), 1057(b), 1057(c), 1062(a), 1063 to 1068, inclusive, 1072, 1115 and 1124 of this title."
Karen Crane


Joined: May 03, 2011
Posts: 144
I was around during the Second World Wasr...YES...the terms...Victory Gardens,
Home gardens, and others were commonly used.
Sad to say this issue has come up.
But then I tried to ask Him ( the father) about why he wasn't doing water catching sue to the water problems in the Los Angeles area and he got really snippy and said he didnt need to do that as LA got enough rain,.   
Really? Come on now. 
 
 
subject: Dervaes Family "Urban Homestead" Trademark Debacle
 
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