The Insanity of Trademarking Sustainability
NEWSFLASH!: Update March 3, 2011
This just in, garden writer Michael Nolan says the Dervaes family plagiarized his work on several occasions. Read the dirty details here: How the Dervaes Family Stole My Victory Garden, Earth Garden Blog. Oh the humanity!
Original Story Below:
Those ever so helpful gardeners at the Garden Rant blog have brought to our attention this story on the Dervaes family’s. They are a family honorably trying to live a self-sufficient life in the middle of Pasadena, CA. There’s a movie about their experiment called Home Grown Revolution. They’ve even been on the Oprah show which by all popular measure is the pinnacle of modern success.
Problem is, they are attempting to trademark such common phrases such as ‘urban homesteading’ among the other phrases (listed below) as posted in their letter here.
Phrases under Dervaes family ownership are:
- URBAN HOMESTEAD®
- URBAN HOMESTEADING®
- PATH TO FREEDOM®
- GROW THE FUTURE®
- HOMEGROWN REVOLUTION®
- FREEDOM GARDENS®
- LITTLE HOMESTEAD IN THE CITY®
When I first read this letter I thought, ‘Wow, they really must have successfully cut themselves off from the rest of the world because it sounds like they’re from another planet!’
To me, at the heart of sustainability is community and cooperation …not corporate bunker mentality. Homesteading, urban or otherwise, is a way of life …not a business opportunity or a franchise.
However, upon further contemplation, I have grown to believe this is actually a wonderful idea. It has even inspired me to trademark the following phrases for myself:
- BLUE WHEELBARROW®
- BLUE WHEELBARROWING®
- FREEDOM’S WHEELBARROW®
- WHEELBARROW TO THE FUTURE®
- USING A WHEELBARROW®
- DIGGING IN THE GARDEN®
- THE COLOR BLUE®
I’ve even adopted their legal speak in this paragraph copied from their letter and adapted for my purposes:
If you’re not using these phrases to specifically identify products or services from the Dervaes Institute Blue Wheelbarrow, then it would be proper to use generic terms to replace the registered trademark you are using. For example, when discussing general homesteading wheelbarrowing, it should be referred to using terms such as ‘modern homesteading,’ ‘urban sustainability projects,’ ‘blue pushy things with the buckety tops’ or similar descriptions. Also acceptable is to mime the wheelbarrow pushing action while making wheelbarrow sounds like ‘eee-eee!’ and ‘bong, creak!‘
Don’t we have bigger problems facing our future than trademarking universal ideas?