Today is President’s day.  Sometimes I think of the presidents we had in the past and it just makes me shake my head to think of how they must be rolling over in their graves at what we have let our country become.  All politics aside, though, I would like to say why I am also celebrating today as Urban Homesteading Day.

We once had a President named Thomas Jefferson.  He is my favorite President of all time, and a lot of that is due to his agrarian and common sense nature.  He believed in people doing their best, and creating their own futures.  He did not believe in big government and telling people how to live their lives.  I firmly believe that much of what goes on today is a complete betrayal of him and our other Founding Fathers, and much of this is due to what we let people get away with.

If you haven’t read the backstory on what is going on with the trademarking of the words “Urban Homestead” and “Urban Homesteading,” you might want to do so.  Click here to see my previous post, and here’s a good news article that sums it up.  In essence, a family that has been practicing Urban Homesteading in California for about 10 years has decided to essentially lay claim to those terms and have SOMEHOW successfully patented them. Their justification basically is that they have given “urban homesteading” it’s modern definition.  In essence, they claim to have invented urban homesteading because of their involvement in the community. Yep, and Al Gore invented the internet!

I will not say they have not contributed.  They have consistently had tons of very valuable information available… I remember being quite inspired by them in the past and I also remember looking at their plans for a homemade oil press before I decided to buy my Piteba oil expeller.  But the thing is… they didn’t create urban homesteading.  They didn’t even come close.  I know of many urban homesteaders who never even heard of them until this debacle happened.

If I can think of ONE person who was my biggest inspiration, it would have to be the late Carla Emery.  Carla, by the way, is a stellar and outstanding example of someone who contributed to the community without demanding some sort of recognition.  She was a great example.

Anyway so they have been sending out what amounts to “cease and desist” letters to bloggers, newspapers, libraries, and more.  On their website they have a disclaimer that states they are not SUING any bloggers!  This is a partial truth.  Native Americans used to call this “speaking with a forked tongue.”

True, the letters did not specifically use the terms “cease and desist.”  And true, no bloggers have actually been sued.  But let’s take a look at the verbiage from one of the letters, shall we?

Here’s a quote:

“We are generally able to resolve any such uses without involving our legal counsel.”

Oh really?  And so YES, they may have not sued anyone… but this is quite obviously a thinly veiled threat of legal action if said bloggers do not fall in line.  So let’s take a look at what this “line” involves, shall we?

“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… When using a phrase listed above to refer to the work of the Dervaes Institute, 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.”

So, essentially, what they are saying is that if everyone does not begin immediately capitalizing all the letters in the terms “Urban Homestead” and “Urban Homesteading” and accompany it with the registered trademark symbol as well as somehow crediting the Dervaes Institute, they will proceed with legal action.

So, let’s compare some paragraphs for a moment.  If I were to write this on a blog post:

I’ve had such a wonderful weekend these past few days on my little urban homestead!  The chickens are laying, the veggies are growing, and the flowers are out.  Life is good!

I’d have to change it to this:

I’ve had such a wonderful weekend these past few days on my little URBAN HOMESTEAD® (term copyright Dervaes Institute 2010-2011)!  The chickens are laying, the veggies are growing, and the flowers are out.  Life is good!

Is this some kind of a sick joke?  Seriously… not going to happen.  No, no no no no.  I am absolutely outraged at the audacity that they would have to lay claim to a term that has been around for DECADES.  My great grandparents practiced urban homesteading! What arrogance in the world could make this man and his family think they could lay claim to a lifestyle that has been practiced for hundreds of years all over the globe?  And threaten legal action for it?  Don’t be ridiculous.

And then they did a big ol retraction, stating that they were only asking people to “give credit” when it was a “for profit” situation, and not regular bloggers.  So just for that, I’ll post an ad right below this paragraph which makes this post “for profit.”  Please note I have used the copyrighted terms multiple times in the post title, URL, tags and content.  I’m only a LITTLE rebellious ;)

This makes as much sense as me trying to copyright “Mom of 2″ or “work at home mom” or “bread baker” or anything else that is a part of my lifestyle!  Oh and then not only that, but then I threaten to sue anyone who identifies themselves as that in the written word in some fashion, or even just uses the terms in a similar context as what I use them in (unless they TYPE IT IN ALL CAPS and place the trademark symbol in the right place and say it was copyrighted by Bethany). I’m sorry, but no.  What planet does this guy live on??

OK, I’ll settle down for a moment.  I guess here’s the real thing that bugs me about it.  People make mistakes.  I understand that.  It would be the honorable thing for this family (and YES they have contributed significantly to the movement, I will not discount that) to take a step back and admit they were wrong and move on with life.  But they have remained stubborn, claiming that it is just gossip and everyone is against them, they are misunderstood, etc.

I’m sorry, but they are not being honest.  I hate that.  Dishonesty bugs me, a lot.  Lack of integrity bugs me, a lot.  And not being able to admit when you are wrong?  I understand it’s human to not WANT to admit when you are wrong… but seriously?  The backlash this move has created is one of the most tremendous things I have seen.  The Facebook page created to combat this issue had thousands of members within ONE DAY.  You would think they’d take a hint and step back and make an apology to the community.

But they aren’t, and that’s sad.  The saddest part about this is that I have a feeling that not all four members of this family are on board with it.  I can’t imagine they all would be.  This move has seemed to be so far against the life they have publicly lived for the last ten years that is just seems odd to me.  Within a matter of days, this family has pretty much destroyed their livelihood.  No one is going to want to hear Jules Dervaes speak anymore… I certainly wouldn’t anymore.  I wouldn’t be surprised if community pressure forces restaurants to stop buying from them, and I know their online business will certainly suffer.

It is a shame that this arrogance could completely destroy a decade’s worth of work in a matter of days.  But it will, and it has.  I have been encouraged in a way, by how the community has been coming together about this issue.  We’ve been supporting each other and banding together to fight this Big Wrong.  That, my friends, is community.  And that, my friends… is urban homesteaders.

I believe Thomas Jefferson would be proud of us, because we will NOT let them control our language and be owners of our lifestyle.  We will not be owned and we will fight this until it is dead, period.

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16 Comments

  • VERY well said, Bethany! I am in complete agreement.

  • James says:

    Bethany…..absolutely a great post. What you said about them destroying their own reputation so quickly is so true. It takes years to build a large structure and when it is time to blow it up, it is done within a minute. Same thing relationaly.

    • Bethany says:

      Thank you! Yeah it just takes one bad move. like I said before, I think the sad part is that they could have done a recovery of all that reputation and work by making an immediate retraction and an apology… but even still they are stubbornly still claiming it is still a big misunderstanding and some sort of conspiracy against them.

  • mimi says:

    your information is not current. Please see http://dervaestrademark.wordpress.com/

    • mimi says:

      You say:”I’m sorry, but they are not being honest. I hate that. Dishonesty bugs me, a lot. Lack of integrity bugs me, a lot. And not being able to admit when you are wrong? I understand it’s human to not WANT to admit when you are wrong… but seriously? The backlash this move has created is one of the most tremendous things I have seen. The Facebook page created to combat this issue had thousands of members within ONE DAY. You would think they’d take a hint and step back and make an apology to the community.”

      However, it is you who are not being honest and not reporting the issue correctly. You need to see the wordpress blog I sent. I figure this will not be published because it will incriminate you.

      You say: “So, essentially, what they are saying is that if everyone does not begin immediately capitalizing all the letters in the terms “Urban Homestead” and “Urban Homesteading” and accompany it with the registered trademark symbol as well as somehow crediting the Dervaes Institute, they will proceed with legal action.”

      No, what they are saying (your reading comprehension is off) is that when you refer to the Dervaes Institute works of Urban Homesteading and Urban Homestead, you must capitalize the terms only then;otherwise, as TM owners they would prefer to have you use the other suggested terms for homesteading projects of others.

      Additionally, there was NEVER a retraction by the Dervaes as to use by bloggers as TM law only applies to Commercial blogs, etc.,anyone making money for anything not regular blogs. You are just perpetrating an internet false rumor which, essentially, is defamation.

      • Bradley says:

        How much do you get paid to find bloggers? I’m kind of interested in making money doing this myself.

      • Bethany says:

        Wow… thank you, Mimi (or Marcy, or Margarent, or whatever your name is today).

        You’ve really shown me the light. I guess what people SAY they are doing really truly IS more important than what they actually do!

        Please. Are you threatening me with defamation? I think Bradley is on to something… I see you posting the same thing on a lot of other websites.

        I looked at your blog. It looks like a shill blog to me. Here we are, over a year later (and I haven’t even made a new post on this blog in three months) and you are telling me that I’m incriminating myself? What are you smoking? Incriminating myself with what?

        Most blogs today are monetized in some fashion. That makes them commercial. This blog included – I make about $5 a month from this blog.

        You can SAY all you want that the Dervaes aren’t going to be going after bloggers, but they HAVE been doing so. I don’t give a rat’s ass what you say or what they say – it’s what they DO that counts, and that’s why I lost respect for them.

        I will never, ever agree with it being ethical or “right” in any sense of the fashion, that they would trademark a commonly used term and actually have the balls to contact bloggers asking them to capitalize it and use the TM symbol and all that bullshit. Not only that, but to try and put out of business other companies that are not only non-competitors, but also have been using the term longer than they have.

        So WE have to change our language and a commonly used term because they decided they owned the words? Nope, sorry – not gonna do it. The term “urban homesteading” has been around longer than the Dervaes, and it was a mistake to grant them the TM.

        And bullshit it is. An internet false rumor? Hardly. Defamation? Are you threatening me?

        I hope you are being paid well for this. Your comment has inspired me… I think I feel another post coming on.
        Bethany would love for you to read..Where am I?My Profile

        • Bethany says:

          TO sum it up – is it legal for them to ask us to jump through those hoops? Technically yes, since they were granted the copyright.

          Is it ethical? A resounding NO to that.
          Bethany would love for you to read..Where am I?My Profile

          • mimi says:

            Is it ethical to spread false rumors about someone? Never (in case you don’t know.) Please educate yourself about trademark law and the facts of what the Dervaes did BEFORE you speak/write. EVERY blogger is responsible (legally/ethically) for what they report. That is the law. If you have an issue with the whether or not trademark law is ethical, I suggest you take it up with the government. Freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to say something false about anyone.

          • mimi says:

            You say:Not only that, but to try and put out of business other companies that are not only non-competitors, but also have been using the term longer than they have.

            BTW: That is NOT true. The Dervaes have been using the terms commercially since early 2000. Non competitors? WRONG

          • Bethany says:

            http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4007:ccijes.2.2

            “IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Educational services, namely, conducting informal programs in the fields of sustainable living, organic foods and gardening, homesteading, the environment, and conservation, using on-line activities and interactive exhibits; entertainment services, namely, providing a web site featuring photographs and audio and video recordings featuring instruction and current events reporting on sustainable living, organic foods and gardening, the environment, and conservation; on-line journals, namely, blogs featuring the subjects of sustainable living, organic foods and gardening, the environment, and conservation. FIRST USE: 20021200. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20030100″

            Bolding mine.

            Blogs. Does that mean blogs… or blogs? I guess my limited reading capacity means I guess I can’t comprehend the vast difference between blogs vs. blogs.

            And don’t spout that tripe about “not regular blogs, only commercial blogs” thing because nearly every single blog I have ever read is monetized in some fashion. This blog itself would count, even though I only make a couple bucks a month from it – it is still monetized, I still make money from it, so it would be by definition a commercial blog.

            Truth be told I fail to see how the Denver Urban Homesteading, a local farmer’s market is a competitor. Please enlighten me.

            The other thing you hammer on about is that they are legally required to tell bloggers to use the capitalization, TM symbol or use other terms. That’s ridiculous. No one else seems to be required to do that.

            I can mention permaculture, hobby farms, or any other number of similarly trademarked items (terms that are often used in common language without the user necessarily referring to the TM owner or their product) and I’m not going to get any kind of nastygram from the TM owners about any TM symbols or capitalization.

            I could even refer to other trademarked names specifically, like Nike or Toll House Morsels without the owners of those TMs getting up in my face about a TM symbol. So why did the Dervaes find it necessary to send letters to bloggers (yes, bloggers, not anyone who was actually infringing on anything)

            Freedom of speech DOES absolutely give me the right to publicly state what I believe to be ethical or not. I realize the government is probably not going to do anything about this on their own – which is why I support the Denver Urban Homesteading FM in their efforts to get this ridiculous trademark revoked.

            This TM is ridiculous, in the same way it would be ridiculous for me to try to TM “Stay-home mom” because that’s what I do. So there are two facets to the issue – the fact that the TM never should have been granted to begin with, and then most importantly, what the Dervaes family did with it after the fact.

            You accuse me of saying things that are false, yet I haven’t said anything that can’t be backed up by facts, or sharing my opinion.

            P.S. your combative approach isn’t exactly winning you any points here, either, if you were actually trying to change my mind vs. start an argument. You came on my blog (which I am not even actively posting on), onto a post that was well over a year old, expressing my opinion about a controversy.

            Instead of stating your disagreements in a reasonable manner, you accuse me of being dishonest, assuming I’d censor your post because you disagree with me, uneducated, and even better – intentionally defaming the Dervaes.

            That’s exactly why you have gotten such opposition in the homesteading community. That’s exactly why people react to you the way they do. If you truly want to get people thinking twice about this issue, you may want to consider changing your approach and stop accusing people of being uneducated and dishonest right off the bat, especially on their own blogs.

            The irony is that your posts (and the other posts you’ve done on other blogs under different names) have done nothing but solidify my position. When the whole debacle began, I could not believe that they would intentionally do this – in essence, destroying their own life’s work and reputation and becoming publicly known as greedy and selfish – but then the fact that they continued to push and push (and your comments are included in this) have made me realize that I may have been wrong about that.
            Bethany would love for you to read..First Thoughts & Review of Cloth Diapers – Kawaii, Fuzzibunz and BumGenius 4.0My Profile

  • mimi says:

    You say: Blogs. Does that mean blogs… or blogs? I guess my limited reading capacity means I guess I can’t comprehend the vast difference between blogs vs. blogs.

    Explanation: Under trademark law, it means others using the terms in their blogs significantly to denote their projects as urban homesteads commercially as a trademark for their own business (and not the Dervaes’ project) could be infringing. But it is ok for others to use the terms descriptively under Fair Use.

    You say: Truth be told I fail to see how the Denver Urban Homesteading, a local farmer’s market
    is a competitor. Please enlighten me.

    Explanation: The Dervaes have videos, tours, workshops for learning urban homesteading skills. They market themselves under that name which has gone out nationally and internationally. It is not just a local work. Anyone in the same fields (or related fields) could be infringing. Federal tm registration means that they have rights nationally even over isolated local markets providing the same goods and services elsewhere in the nation. That is the point of a Federally registered trademark.

    You say: Freedom of speech DOES absolutely give me the right to publically state what I believe to be ethical or not

    Explanation: Absolutely, it does.

    But you also stated: TO sum it up – is it legal for them to ask us to jump through those hoops? Technically yes, since they were granted the copyright.

    Is it ethical? A resounding NO to that

    Explanation: That statement could be read as saying what the Dervaes did (and had to do under the trademark law) was not ethical. It is not clear that your are NOT referring to the actions of the Dervaes.

    Yes, I came to your blog as I was surfing for something else and saw your post. What was evident was that you were speaking as if you were right when you were, in fact, speading false internet rumors. What angered me the most was saying that you hate dishonesty when you were giving credence to other people’s lies. Perhaps, yes, I should have asked you whether or not you had spoken to the Dervaes and gotten other information different from mine. Sorry about that. If you did, you should share it. Please do.

    You say: I understand it’s human to not WANT to admit when you are wrong…

    Explanation: That goes for the others who have spread the false rumors too.

    You mention about the backlash from the community– to tell you the truth, I would be angry too if all that I read about the Dervaes trademark situation were true.I would be hopping mad. Online available information shows it is not. Basically, trademarks do not affect most people. It i just in the commercial area one has to be careful. And for correct legal advice, one should always consult with an attorney. As for your claim that the blog post is a year old–consider the fact that people don’t always read dates and the written words on the internet stay around a lot longer than the spoken word. You can be angry with me as I don’t mind because I am just doing what I think is right even though I don’t always handle things well. To shoot the messenger,as the proverb says, and ignore the true message is foolishness on your part. No, I can’t change your mind but at least you now have been given the truth. You have been told and unless you can find some verifiable, provable fact contrary to what I have seen and written (not rumors) then I am finished here as saying I have a competitive approach should be that I have a challenging way to make you/others think based on facts.

  • Mee Mee says:

    I have been following the trademark fiasco since it began. It is so obvious when blog comments are the Dervaes themselves it’s almost comical. Using false identities and anonymous comments doesn’t shield you. Gues why? I bet you can’t guess. Because of the way you twist the English language. It is unique to you. I’ve never heard anyone else speak that way. I guess when you’re all homeschooled together…
    I know Mimi Dervaeas will make a comment after this post. Oh come on….guess why. Because when you have the last name Dervaes, you CANNOT just let it go. They feel the need to have the last word in every thread. It is very immature. So Mimi, I won’t be back here to read it, so save it!!!

  • mimi says:

    You are so wrong about who I am. I am college educated and perhaps that is why you don’t understand me.

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