Recently the inter-webs have been abuzz with news that the Dervaes family of Pasadena has successfully trademarked the terms "Urban Homestead" and "Urban Homesteading". The family sent out at least 16 "cease and desist" letters to various groups asking them to find alternate phrasing, including the Santa Monica Public Library for hosting a free, educational event on urban homesteading.
These terms can no longer be used in Facebook page titles, on personal blogs or otherwise for profit. If you use the term in a not for profit manner, you must use the trademark symbol and "specifically identify products or services from the Dervaes Institute." They add that it would be "proper to use generic terms such as "modern homesteading." They have had Facebook pages with the terms Urban Homestead and Urban Homesteading in the name shut down without notifying those pages first. -Take Back Urban Homesteading Facebook Page
And the word is the Dervaes family went after these guys too: The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City. A legal battle appears to be brewing with that one. You can read about it here.
The Dervaes family claims it sought these trademarks, among others, to protect their intellectual property. I would argue that the intellectual property they claim needs protecting is actually open source. While what the Dervaes family has done with their little plot of land is admirable, it certainly isn't original. People have been putting these agricultural and environmental practices to use for decades, if not longer. Going after the little guys seems to me to be counter productive to the movement they claim to want to inspire. To claim "intellectual property" on words that have been used together since at least the 1970's is a slap in the face to all the homesteaders, urban and suburban gardeners, back yard chicken keepers, and food preservers - really anyone that tries to employ sustainable, self sufficient living styles in the city (or in my case, suburbia).
Head over to the Facebook page, Take Back Urban Home-steading and show your support for a community that is tight knit and would strive to keep Urban Homesteading an open source idea and lifestyle. There you can find out what else you can do to help
In the meantime, enjoy a few scenes from our suburban homestead.
Starting From Seed
Growing hope, one seed at a time.