was the first of a few of you to send in variations on the story of how a Pasadena-based family, the Dervaes, were able to get a trademark on the term "urban homesteading,"
last year, and recently have been sending out letters telling people to stop using the term and getting Facebook groups to shut down. Of course, "urban homesteading" is a term that's been in widespread use for years, and to suddenly claim ownership of it is pretty ridiculous and is a classic case of trademark bullying. The family is defending its actions by claiming, first of all, that the letters it sends out are perfectly friendly and do not contain the phrase "cease & desist."
Of course, you don't have to actually include that phrase, and the letter pretty clearly states that no one else can use the term "urban homesteading." Instead, it suggests "it would be proper to use generic terms to replace the registered trademark you are using." Yes, this is friendlier than your ordinary legal nastygram... but it's still a form of a cease and desist.
The family has also posted a separate blog post which purports to teach "trademark basics,"
but it appears the family might need a refresher course. It notes, correctly, that the same phrase can be used separately in unrelated fields. However, given that's the case, it also means that its letter claiming that no one else can use the phrase urban homesteading is wrong
. And that's a big part of the complaint. It seems clear that the family is not just going after those who have used the phrase in a confusing manner, but all sorts of folks who were using the phrase that was in widespread common usage well before the family got the trademark on the name...