i’m not an herbal product maker so i don’t have direct skin in the game, but i’m interested in issues like this and some of my students are apothecaries & product makers, so i’d like to have some insight into how these things play out. Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark and may allow the common law user to successfully challenge a registration or application.”. Fire cider is one of those home remedies that, once you make it and start passing it around, people want it. The recipe in and of itself is not the problem, but taking something culturally and regionally known for it’s healing properties and saying by way of a trademark that only they can possess the rights of distribution for profit espouses the bigger demon in the room, Cultural Appropriation. At the onset of a cold, I take a spoonful of cider 3-4 times daily. Compile a list of herbalists (particularly ones who have a company)who are willing to submit a letter seeking administrative relief, who have either been harmed by this action, know the history of fire cider, or who are just deeply offended. The term “fire cider” was first coined by Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist and author of the books Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide and Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, both of which are excellent.. On deleting posts.. All of these products are so ingrained in our minds that the brand names are often used interchangeably with or instead of the product name. As Fire Cider refers to a traditional product like say yogurt (okay probably not a great analogy) rooted in folk tradition, it is short sighted and a wee bit arrogant to claim ownership. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote! I do believe an organized challenge of the mark, filed with the USPTO, is the best course of action, and I trust one is forthcoming. Click here for more info about this story! I do think this small company has the potential to be a conduit between the two communities (herbalists and “public”) and “spreading the word”, but going after herbalists (and Etsy) instead of changing their own name to make them more distinctive misses the point of who everybody is and what people’s goals really are. Don’t use a cell phone whose towers are killing off birds faster than acid rain? This recipe -like many others- was j… To drink? This is it! people could start a petition or lawsuit showing all the published things with the words Fire Cider in them, proving that nobody could take that copyright term. They only make one product so they have put all their eggs in one basket. Horseradish, garlic, onion, ginger, and hot peppers infused in vinegar? […] latest excitement surrounding the trademark controversy of the term “fire cider” has given me some pause. I have some sympathy for the Fire Cider® folks, here. More importantly, I think you’d suddenly be flooded with lots of suggestions and also support. They were wrong. Type of Mark TRADEMARK The challenge is when people want to be able to continue selling it in marketplaces like Itsy, they are being denied that right. What matters, legally, is that he trademarked the name before anyone else did. Fire Cider was not protected in any way before we registered it. Call your cider whatever you want. The US legal system granted Shire City the trademark, withstanding the written proof of the existence of fire cider before they created it. The long and short of it is, they’re saying “bring it to the US Patent & Trademark Office.” If we take it at face value, this may mean they feel confident that their mark will stand up to a challenge, or they may believe there’s no safe way for them to extricate themselves from the situation under their own power, and that an external effort is required. Instead of the herbalist people’s medicine. You shouldn’t be allowed to take a traditional name for something and trademark it, thus depriving others who have already been using that term of their natural rights to do so. Seems like the right answer to me. What he’s getting at in the letter is that they don’t want anyone SELLING a product called Fire Cider. I don’t know the company owners personally, so I won’t attempt to assume what their motives may have been or how they feel about all of this. Buy only used clothes, made of natural materials? I think it’s fair to say the Shire City Herbals folks are starting to find ways to engage in that dialogue, and I hope we can all move our focus to suggesting and supporting paths to resolution. Fire Cider Controversy. And they are not very good at that or they would have realized that the negative press they are getting just destroyed all of their marketing efforts. Some examples would be Kleenex, Band Aid, Q-tip, Jell-o, and Cheerio’s. Perhaps they could call it something like Shire Cider, trademark it, and include a non-trademarked generic description of the product (fire cider) just like other companies do. Unfortunately, this created a situation in which trademark holders must legally defend their trademark by suing other businesses who use the name, and … And by doing so, they claim they’ve given this traditional spicy elixir a second meaning or “added value.” But, how can they make such a […], […] Trademarking Tradition: the Fire Cider® Controversy (yeah that’s me mentioned in the beginning of that post because I was one of the earlier people talking about the issue to bring it to folks attention…) […]. Now, I understand that they wanted to trademark Fire Cider to protect their product and that they want to bring this product to a broad audience. And it has to do with trademarking. They are nothing but opportunist thieves. Join our newsletter for more herby goodness! The conversation got pretty heated on […]. I’m not sure how to substantiate that; Facebook is a notoriously fickle and mercurial medium. Each bottle that is made by you or purchased from your local herbalist is a vote against the trademark of cultural knowledge. Fire cider is a cherished herbal medicine that has become a surprising controversy. You might wonder how an herb-filled beverage could cause any sort of controversy, there is one. Use in Bloody Marys — alcoholic or not! (I believe all of these Facebook posts are public, so you ought to be able to click right through.) We have been using this and other vinegar based remedies for decades,for someone to market a corner, claim it for their own…speaks for itself. I think an explanation is in order for this. ), There are also recurrent rumours floating around about comments and posts being deleted from the Fire Cider® Facebook page. I really think that many herbalists don’t understand trademark law and this is a big deal over nothing. This, however, does not mean the tradition of fire cider is trademarked. I can’t see them allowing the herbs to meld with the vinegar for months at a time. Their trial started during the Spring Equinox with the moon in Libra and we ended with the Fall Equinox with the Sun in Libra…. There could be a silver lining here. G & S: Dietary supplement drink. Office of the General Counsel on a completely different note, i somehow hadn’t seen your website until today – it looks great! – if the blog author contacted you to request an exemption, or explanation, before making their post? I grow weary of these types of people/companies. The first time I encountered this traditional folk recipe, I have to admit I was terrified. Ahhhhh!  Failure to exercise reasonable diligence in enforcing a trademark constitutes “trademark abandonment”. It’s found its way from our herbal kitchen to national headlines as well as into the courts. From what i’ve read on line, and seen in stores, Shire City is about selling a drink mix to those with disposable incomes, and when they get hooked, their hip websites will show you how to build a pallet garden for your newly gentrified neighborhood. That is, after all, the whole point of everyone making all this noise! The cider recipe is variable and is an excellent example of folk medicine, because it can be made in infinite ways, all dependent upon what the creator has in their kitchen. Trademarking Tradition: the Fire Cider® Controversy. Part of HuffPost News. Maybe instead of sending bad energy (i.e. The controversy is over the actual trademark of the name “fire cider”. They’re operating based on a flawed understanding of trademark law. I own a shop in California that was the first to stock Fire Cider by Shire City Herbals west of the Mississippi River. My (very cynical) take on the whole thing is that it’s all about the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar. I’m so surprised that USPTO let this go through, that I even went to search for it to make sure they really owned it. Well, perhaps I was too optimistic. i’m headed to bed, but i’ll make sure to go through and approve anything left here when i get up in the morning.). This link is a word doc, sorry, but right from the government website… these are non-profit orgs that help with trademark dispute. 2. i did credit you in the alt & title text originally, and the photo’s a link to your Flickr page – i’ve now added it to the photo caption too. I believe this might have happened in the 70’s or early 80’s. My guess is that this all blows over and they just crawl back into the hole from which they came. Why And How We Trademarked Fire Cider. not sure if that’s come across your table. Section 1126(d) or (e), he/she believes applicant to be entitled to use such mark in commerce; to the best of his/her knowledge and belief no other person, firm, corporation, or association has the right to use the mark in commerce, either in the identical form thereof or in such near resemblance thereto as to be likely, when used on or in connection with the goods/services of such other person, to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive; and that all statements made of his/her own knowledge are true; and that all statements made on information and belief are believed to be true. First, to get it out of the way: it looks like the Fire Cider® Retail Stores page – the list of stores which carry the product – has been taken down from their website. You act fast! Fire Cider isn’t so incredibly fantastic that that name will be the only name to which people will be drawn. To share something as if you’re the only place it can be gotten doesn’t empower people to take care of their own health; that’s not what herbalism is about. The flavor that started it all, Fire Cider Original! We all spend all summer at the farmer’s markets trying to educate people. […] and natural medicine. A simple search via Google, Pinterest, Twitter reveals many individuals as herbalists or corporations were using the phrase Fire Cider prior to the application. […] This is what is available via a general search. Let’s not forget that Rodale has trademarked Organic Gardening! Please give us two weeks, til Feb 10th to give you a full update on what our all our options are and where we can go to resolve this in a positive way. There has been a bit of a trademark controversy in recent years over the name “fire cider…  I’m not dismissing or referring to the overall discussion as such, just the comments and emails I’ve received that consist of anger, abuse, and little else. I didn’t know it was a secondary trademark. So, what is this controversy all about? The photo you are using in this article is mine. 🙂. As we saw our business grow, it made sense to trademark our brand name. My understanding is that they can only stop people who duplicate both the name and their label with a secondary trademark , but obviously they think that they have more rights than I think that legally allows them. Rosemary is a generous soul devoted to spreading the … I mean, if an herbalist wants to call her organic, properly made product “Nerve Tonic” and wants to distinguish it from some possible crappy products of the same name, why not trademark it? They are a newer company (2011- I believe). Perhaps some will see this as stretching because no one culture is responsible for Fire Cider or herbal healing. It is basic theft of common property. Huh?! I have a lot of sympathy for small business owners – I am one. Will they call it Fire Cider® – Four Thieves’ Formula™? In the meantime, check out our blog & podcast! Er, I mean….Volcano Cider, Holy Toledo Cider, Mexicali Blues Cider, Flame Cider, Pele Cider (having lived on the Big Island, I’m rather partial to that last one). I first became aware of this issue when I read Michael Blackmore’s Facebook post about the trademarking of the term “fire cider” by Shire City Herbals of Pittsfield, MA and the subsequent action taken by Etsy to remove a product with that name from the Etsy store of The Withered Herb, an herbalist out in Washington state. You'll get our next mailing. Thank you so much for posting this. Perhaps. This is the foundation of trust and reputation that has made other herbal suppliers and producers successful and resilient; I hope Dana, Brian, and Amy can see the value in that, and take the message to heart.  We are 3 people who were already overworked before trying to respond to hundreds of emails and FB posts, so while we are trying to respond to all civil comments and keep communication open, we just don’t have the time to give every comment a full answer. Also learn about the Fire Cider controversy, and why it should matter to you. I went online to order a larger quantity and discovered that the manufacturer had a bit of fire cider controversy surrounding them because fire cider … Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK Bring home their produce in a bag that is not plastic? Strain the herbs from Fire Cider after 3 to 4 weeks. Join the HuffPost community – it’s free! In 2012, Shire City Herbals, a small company that started making the tincture in 2010, trademarked the name fire cider. It is a personal topic to see someone taking their business to the extreme, especially someone who is from Western Massachusetts and knows how strong and tightly knit the community here is around things like food security and holistic wellness. You can at this time, challenge a trademark application if it conflicts with a business name or logo that you posses. Rosemary popularized this recipes close to 30 years ago but it’s origins can be traced back to small villages and towns around the globe. Your task then is to respond as best you can, defend yourself when necessary, or let your quality stand on its own merits. Herbal Revolution sells a fantastic version. I think they had better take a step back and rethink! In order to obtain the Fire Cider trademark, this statement appeared above the signatures of the owners applying for the mark: The undersigned, being hereby warned that willful false statements and the like so made are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, under 18 U.S.C. We are turning people on, but that takes lots of time, money, and resources. Those who swear by it take at least a shot a day as a way to boost their immune system and to … To share something as if you’re the only place it can be gotten doesn’t empower people to take care of their own health; that’s not what herbalism is about. Surely many people throughout history have made fire cider-like remedies. We all are caretakers of the planet, but if someone wants to sell a product of their own recipe, then they should. To craft our tonic, we start with a base of raw, certified organic apple cider vinegar, which has long been used by everyone from grandmothers to farmers to extract the beneficial properties of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. What's the Fire Cider Controversy? I call it theft. It would appear that the Trademark Office merely responded to the trademark application assuming what was stated in it was accurate. I’m waiting to see how this plays out, and I am overjoyed to see all the many herbalists stepping forward in outrage, solidarity and soul-ution based idea’s for Dana. We’ve built our business around that name and in the process built a market for that product. Folk traditions and herbal healing have always belonged to the people, first and foremost because they were available, accessible and in many cases free to the common person. Access comments, members-only events, HuffPost Insider and more. Read our Privacy & Health Disclosure Here. You can buy fire cider tonics from your local herbalist, apothecaries or at farmer’s markets. They have every right to trademark “Fire Cider” and stand by their trademark. What we have done is create what they call “secondary meaning” in the trademark world. This is something I have often seen and it makes perfect sense to me. – if you have a response to the general idea, that ‘fire cider’ is a name (similar to “Four Thieves’ Vinegar”, perhaps) for a medicinal preparation that has a long history and so shouldn’t be subject to trademark? While the exact ingredients of the fire cider vary, the core herbs used tend to be onions, garlic, horseradish, ginger and cayenne or other hot peppers. Read short blurb at this link https://www.uspto.gov/faq/trademarks.jsp#_Toc275426712: Federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark. In the end Shire City can change, they can do what they want,,, it would cost them money, and money is the bottom line, this is a business and Shire City appears as though money is what they are after, not the health of the people. Look at the plethora of hot sauce names out there. Drizzle over steamed veggies. Fire cider is a traditional preparation of … This way you can put your own good mojo into it (I swear by this—singing the tune “Got my Mojo Workin'” every time I shake it up. (I will refer to it as a cider concoction henceforth, until the explanation of the controversy). Hippocrates (age of Pericles 370BC) touted daily doses of a similar vinegar sweetened honey beverage for health, longevity and overall vigor. 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