Today is unofficially the Urban Homesteaders' Day of Action, when bloggers all over the place agreed to write about urban homesteading. Why? Because, to give you the short version, a family that has a website (which I'm not going to link to) about urban homesteading decided to trademark that phase, then sent letters out to other bloggers, websites, radio stations and even a city library telling them to stop using their trademark.
You can read a quick wrapup of the story here, and then if you want to take it further, a quick Google search on urban homestead trademark will get you much more. Or twitter hashtag #dumpthedervaes will give you a completely one-sided view (my side, so that's okay).
To me, this is just super stupid. It puts me in mind of when someone decided to trademark the phrase "shabby chic" and then shut down all kinds of vendors and designers who had been using the phrase for years. It'd be like if I decided I had made up "Shallow Thoughts" and trademarked it, and then went after all the blogs that have "shallow thoughts" in the title. (There are a lot of them.) This is not a plagiarism issue. They are not talking about out and out plagiarism of their websites, they are talking about the phrase and the concept of urban homesteading, which they most certainly did not make up. It's also about them being too proud to back down after doing something stupid and being confronted on it.
It doesn't help any that I have personal experience with the family who created this flap, and have never been impressed.
I also blame the trademark office. This request was turned down once; the family resubmitted and the second time it was accepted. Someone must have taken too much cold medication that day, or something, because it should never have been granted a trademark.
Anyway, in honor of the urban homesteaders out there, I am blogging about this issue as well.