Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Free "Urban Homestead"

Ok, I really want to take the high road here - but it is so hard with such an easy target. The fact is that the Dervae's whom we have admired and posted about in the past have registered the term Urban Homestead. The self sufficient, green, gardening, urban homesteading community and blogosphere is wielding pitchforks over it - as it should be.

Mr. Arellano posts a large picture of Ramshackle friends Kelly and Erik's book at the top of the page - likely two of the people most affected by this development since their book's title is of course: The Urban Homestead.

Here's a quote from the article to give you an idea of the scope of the Dervaes' efforts:

Harriet Ells, producer for KCRW-FM 89.9's Good Food With Evan Kleiman (for which I contribute) just tweeted that the Dervaeses sent them a cease-and-desist letter because they used the term in a blog post. The irony of this, of course, is that Kleiman joined the family for a meal last summer as part of an episode for Private Chefs of Beverly Hills. They also sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Santa Monica Public Library because the library hosted a free event on urban homesteading. What douches!

If you feel moved to action you can join the Facebook group Take Back Urban Home-steading(s)

One part of me wants to rail against the Dervaes' for being so... and I think I am being extremely generous here: clueless. But another part of me just feels kind of sorry for them. They obviously were not expecting this reaction. I guess you have to wonder: what were they expecting to happen?


  1. I've thought for a while that they might be doing something like this, but hoped that I was wrong. What they do is really great, but they didn't exactly invent the idea. This kind of thing is just so...gross. Isn't it the opposite of everything urban homesteading is supposed to stand for? It's really unfortunate and makes me a little ill.

  2. I follow their blog as well and have been confounded over all the legalese they've put out the past week. The whole point of a patent/trademark is to protect your name/idea/product from infringement so you can make money off it. How can you trademark something that's been in the public sphere for so long? And why be so militant about it unless your prime directive is monetary gain? I love the work they do and am inspired by their efforts, but I agree that they're on the wrong side of this issue.

  3. Well, didn't Pepsi trademark "Uh-huh" a while back? I'm just glad they didn't send me a cease and desist letter every time I agreed with something...

  4. This kind of sounds like the April Fool's joke that went around a few years ago about trademarking the sad face emoticon. Except these guys really did it.

  5. I can see both side of the issue, they've worked hard and invested a lot of time and money through the years and as Urban Homesteading becomes more and more popular and part of main stream culture I can see people starting to infringe upon their niche.

    The sad thing is, in our society, they almost have to do this to protect themselves from it happening the other way around. I can totally see some big company trademarking it and then suing them, even though they've been using it for years. And of course once you trademark something, you have to protect your name or trademark or you'll get taken advantage of so they almost have to send these types of letters.

    I'm guessing they're just being proactive. I'm assuming we don't know what's going on behind the scenes or if they've had some problems already with people taking advantage of them and perhaps this is a step they've had to take. I'm sure we don't know the whole story and never will.

    Plus I'm all for someone making money from their hard work, especially them. They've inspired thousands of people to grow their own, be more sustainable and to be proactive about local eating and to notice the dangers of GMO's. I hope they do make a nice salary from their work, especially now.

  6. @Chiot's Run I agree with you that they might be making a smart decision before a big company trademarks the terms and then sues them. My biggest problem is not them taking out the trademarks, is how they are enforcing them. If the rumors are true they are going to far. Don't tell people they are protecting the term "U*@n Hom3steading" from big corporations then stop small bloggers and libraries from using the term.

  7. Recently I leaden that Komen spends their earnings suing anyone using "for the cure" in the name of their organization. How about you spend my donations on the damned cure instead of smothering other groups trying to cure things? Apple has "there's an app for that." Now this. Frankly all this trying to own WORDS is infuriating. I'm all about protecting your work but trying to claim ownership over frequently used words drives me crazy.

  8. I think I agree with everyone here especially Cesar, I think my biggest problem - and most of the rancor is around this- that they are enforcing it by taking down good intentioned people's facebook pages, threatening libraries, and the Evan Kleiman bit is completely headscratching: they asked her to cease and desist using the term which she uses in a very generous piece directing attention and praise at the Dervaes family.

    @ Chiot's Run - I really appreciate giving them the benefit of the doubt. I agree with everything you said except that "they almost have to send these letters" I don't think Evan Keiman was taking advantage of them when she wrote what was a very flattering piece about them- or that our friends Kelly and Erik authors of Urban Homesteading were taking anything away from the Dervaes family. It's not a zero sum Urban Homesteading world where one use of a term means there is any less for someone else. The Dervaeses are inspirational pioneers and should be recognized as such. Unfortunately this legal action makes it look like they are trying to monopolize the movement rather than nurture it. Completely confounding.

  9. I love you guys. I didn't take the high road in my post about this. The world is not a zero sum game and involving lawyers only benefits the lawyers.

  10. I sent them a note about a year ago complaining about the big watermarks on their photos. Their work deserves to be protected but the watermarks (and now the trademarks) reek of exclusiveness and mine, mine, mine.

    You see this everywhere in the world and it pained me to see something as beautiful as what the Devrais family does - so full of life and joy and abundance - succumb to the same stupid, short-sighted, insular and grasping impulses as the big corporations.

    That said, is everyone keeping up on what is happening in Wisconsin and Bahrain. THAT deserves our attention and concern.


    a tad creepy on the control thing.


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