Published by LawTechie - February 25, 2011 - LawTechie

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a leading digital rights group, has gotten involved in a matter involving the trademark “urban homestead” (for… urban homesteading). The Derveas family of Pasadena, California, best known for transforming their city lot into an organic micro-farm, have somehow convinced the USPTO to issue a trademark for the term “urban homestead.” Now the family has sent cease and desist letters to various writers and proponents of the practice. MediaPost reports:

This month, armed with its new trademarks, the family began attempting to shut down others who used the phrases. Among those targeted were a journalist, a farmers’ market, the founder of the Oakland, Calif. Institute of Urban Homesteading, a journalist, and two authors of the 2008 book “The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City,” the Bay Citizen reports. What’s more, not only did the Dervaes family complain to “The Urban Homestead” authors, but the family apparently went so far as to contact Facebook, resulting in the social networking service disabling links regarding the book.

The interesting part here is the obvious genericness of the “urban homestead” term (how else does one describe urban homesteading?). In that vein, EFF has asked the Derveas family to quit harassing other users of the term, presumably under threat of a cancellation proceeding.

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.

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