Trademark this

Posted on | February 18, 2011 | No Comments

LA Observed is the latest to pick up on a spat between a Pasadena family seeking to trademark the term “urban homestead” and the rest of the kitchen gardening world. According to Santa Monica organizers, said family even sent a cease and desist letter to the Santa Monica Public Library/Farmers Market over using the term for a panel discussion last week. There’s now a Facebook page dedicated to shaming the family. Readers, note well: It’s not just wordplay at stake. You may wake up to find your own name trademarked. A designer of spill proof placemats had the temerity to trademark my name some years ago. Given her emphasis on childish appurtenances, it’s a safe guess that I was publicly and commercially using the name long before some toddler knocked over a cup in her presence. Yet taking a patent on a byline never occurred to me. My niece is among the thousands of young women currently using the same name. To the Pasadenans seeking to own a term that was in the ether before they went back to the land, and to the arriviste and grabby Emily Green (TM), you are both doing positively darling things, and you are both wrong with your trademarks. Some things can’t be owned and the world is a better place for it.

Postscript: Emily Green (TM), a salutary note. Shortly after posting I recalled a story that should give anyone pause before trademarking a common name. For many years a couth man named David Mellor was a pillar of the British Craft Council, one of England’s premier cutlery designers and owner of a top shelf kitchen supply business. Then the Thatcher/Major years gave us David Mellor, privy councilor,  treasury secretary and subject of a tabloid sting. Today the name David Mellor brings to mind not the best crafted knives and forks of Sheffield, but the “Minister of Fun” who, according to his mistress, donned rugby colors for intimate acts. There are a lot of Emily Greens out there and we may not all be PG.

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