This guy just gave a talk in Orange County. . . . Better change the title of that book, son!
This guy just gave a talk in Orange County. . . . Better change the title of that book, son!

[UPDATED] Pasadena's Dervaes Family Trademarks the Terms 'Urban Homestead' and 'Urban Homesteading,' Now Cracking Down on Bloggers

For the latest on this story, click here...

UPDATED, 10:50 P.M. Those dingbat Dervaeses won't give up. Rather than take their licking and apologize to the authors, bloggers, and libraries who dared use the term "urban homestead" or "urban homesteading," they're still blogging and trying to justify the unjustifiable: the cutthroat capitalism that the supposedly progressive family is employing.

They've gone as far as to sanctimoniously lecture the world on their website (you'll have to look it up, because no way in hell I'm linking to them) since the controversy broke about the intricacies of trademark law to, as they put it, "cut through the mob of misinformation...of course, urban homesteading  is 'old' but we used it in a new and unique way and that is what is registered."

Actually, no. The Dervaeses aren't just going after people who have ripped off their writings (a perfectly legitimate legal move, mind you) but ANYONE using the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading."

Meanwhile, a Facebook group called "Take Back Urban Home-Steading(s)" has already found 639 members (and counting), all outraged that the dingbat Dervaeses dared trademarked their philosophy of living. They are posting pictures of chicken coops and jars of preserves--LOVE IT. Congrats, Dervaeses--you have inspired a new movement, devoted to laughing at you!

Last update on this thread--new, original reporting mañana. I need to take care of my Apartment Homestead® with my chica.

More updates--and for those who don't know what the hell is going on, the full story--after the jump.

UPDATED, 3:39 P.M.: The Dervaeses have responded by saying this controversy is really just a conspiracy by critics. "It's a false, made up claim that people are jumping over themselves to make us look bad," blogs Anais Dervaes, before giving everyone the courtesy of publishing the cease-and-desist letter they're sending around to bloggers and libraries. The letter actually has suggestions for people to stop using the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading"!

"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," the letter states. "For example, when discussing general homesteading or other people's projects, they should be referred to using terms such as 'modern homesteading,' 'urban sustainability projects,' or similar descriptions."

Nice--not only are they faux hippies, but now they want to play the Though Police. WEAK SAUCE.

UPDATED, 2:15 P.M.: 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!

ORIGINAL POST, 12:27 P.M.: For the past couple of years, the Dervaes family has garnered national attention for turning its Pasadena home into a veritable Garden of Eden, using every square inch to grow food. It has become an icon in the slow-food movement--but the family is now being vilified, and rightfully so.

In October of last year, the Dervaeses successfully registered the terms "Urban Homestead" and "Urban Homesteading" with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. But only in the past couple of weeks have they been sending cease-and-desist letters to organizations and blogs using the terms without their permission, successfully asking Facebook to shut down groups using those terms as their name. Just yesterday, they knocked down the Facebook page of the Institute of Urban Homesteading, an Oakland-based workshop that teaches people how to can and preserve.

Homestead homepage
Homestead homepage

The issue is starting to rile up urban homesteaders, and the Dervaeses are already equipped for haters--but with rather ridiculous logic. On their website, they answer critics by claiming they're actually saving the term from evil capitalists. "You tell us. . . . Who would you rather own the trademarks? Us or a big business corporation?"

And for you bloggers who want to use the terms as a noun or a verb? According to their website:

If you aren't using it to make money and are simply documenting your life or sharing your information, this would only require that you update your websites and articles to properly cite our works and properly acknowledge if used. When using these trademarked terms, the proper way to go about it is as follows:

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.

Real from-the-land there, Dervaeses. Tools.

The term "urban homestead" has been documented in newspaper reports since at least the 1980s.


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