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Urban homesteading is in court!

From: James
Sent on: Friday, June 21, 2013 12:13 PM

Urban homesteading is in court!  This phrase, reflecting our way of life, has been tied up in litigation since spring of 2011.  That is when 16 bloggers, book authors and Denver Urban Homesteading (DUH) woke up and discovered something they never dreamed would happen: their Facebook pages disappeared while they were sleeping.

 

How did this happen?  The Dervaes family of Pasadena, CA is involved.  Their religious organization called Dervaes Institute (DI) managed to get trademarks on “urban homestead” and “urban homesteading,” and they sent infringement complaints to Facebook for anyone using these phrases.  Facebook then disabled the pages.  In the case of DUH, we got neither an advance cease and desist letter from DI nor advance warning from Facebook.  The result was we instantly lost contact with about 2200 fans/customers which has hurt our market and our farmers, some of whom later went out of business.  (DUH is owned by me and my wife and it is Denver’s first and only indoor, year-round, local farmers’ market, school for urban homesteading and beekeeping store.  We also host free public events such as our monthly chicken swaps, food festivals, etc.)

 

Urban homesteading is registered on the supplemental register at the US Patent and Trademark Office, which means it is not exclusively granted and anyone can use it.  (Most trademarks you know are listed on the principal register.)  Despite that critical legal fact we have been spending more than two years to prove our rights, and also the rights of the public, as two years ago DI issued a public warning that the phrase should not even be used even in discussions unless one is referring to a DI product or service.  Indeed, our efforts may even benefit the Denver Botanic Gardens which has followed this movement and just last year began using the phrase to promote its own business.

 

And how exactly are we trying to protect our rights and the public’s rights?  In April 2011 we commenced a legal action at the USPTO to cancel the trademark.  That litigation has moved very slowly, in part because DI is on its third law firm.  And in April of this year we filed suit in federal court here in Colorado.  The Dervaes’ fourth law firm appeared and promptly asked the Court to dismiss the case based on technicalities.

 

The media has covered this matter at http://www.denverpost.com/lifestyles/ci_17736972#comments.     

 

I have been a member of this Meetup group since February 2009 when I announced a campaign to change Denver’s livestock laws, and you can see a picture of our goat on my profile that I posted when I joined.  (All of us urban homesteaders are connected: this goat is the mother of a goat now owned by an urban homesteader and DBG teacher who is also a member here, and we are happy to now see that our grandbaby goats are going to new homes!) 

 

The new administrator asked me to post this legal update.  We hope that Denver urban homesteaders support us and wish us success.  I post updates to the litigation here which are followed by more than 900 urban homesteaders across North America:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Denver-Urban-Home-steading-Trademark-Issue/[masked]?fref=ts

 

Our website is www.denverurbanhomesteading.com

 

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