Monday, February 21, 2011
Backyard Farms is an Urban Homestead!
One of the things I love best about social media sites such as facebook, twitter and of course blogging is the sense of community it creates with people of like interests. So when a number of different people I'm connected with recently wrote about an attempt to trademark the term Urban Homestead, they got my attention. It appears that a certain family run business operating out of the US applied for a trademark for the terms Urban Homestead/ Homesteader among others and have begun sending out cease and desist orders to others who use the terms, including authors of a book that was published long before, and libraries that circulate this book. Now to me that seems silly at best and mean spirited at worst but I am not a patent expert. It does however irritate the hell out of me when someone tells me what I am not allowed to call myself so as a show of support I will be part of a Day of Action today and I encourage you to participate!
Backyard Farms is my pride and joy but currently it's just a lifestyle choice. We grow barely 20% of our own food, don't raise any animals ( unless you count the farm cats or the vinegar mother) and the little money I make from selling my preserves basically covers the expenses. But I still consider it an urban homestead and the idea that someone can decide that I am infringing on their trademark is outrageous to me!
If you are wondering why this could affect you, you might be surprised to know that they have so far been successful at shutting down a number of blogs and facebook sites where people use the words urban homestead and similar terms! This to me amounts to censorship for profit and sets a very bad precedent which will stifle our ability to communicate valuable knowledge. If they prove successful it could create a situation where terms like Heirloom Tomato, or Lacto Fermentation could be trademarked by anyone who wants to eliminate competition. Granting exclusive rights to people like these goes against all the work that many others have done to promote heirlooms and diversity, and risks limiting free and open access to commonly shared techniques and skills.
For more info you can read about it here and here and you can join the facebook page here. If you are on twitter use hashtag #urbanhomestead. The idea is to swamp the term until it is impossible for them to claim that they have a 'continuous and substantially exclusive use of the mark" . Let's start by bumping their name off the top spot on google!