"URBAN HOMESTEADING" Trademark Cancelled by Federal Court

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Denver Urban Homesteading obtains federal court order cancelling trademark alleged to have been used by California organization to shut-down Facebook page of its farmers' market

On November 5, 2015 a motion made in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by a small farmers’ market named Denver Urban Homesteading was partially granted cancelling the trademark for “urban homesteading.” According to documents filed in the case, the trademark owner used it to disable a number of Facebook pages in 2011 by claiming infringement. A trial is currently scheduled at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in December 2015 to resolve issues not addressed by the Court's November 5, 2015 decision. Denver Urban Homesteading began its legal efforts to cancel the trademark after it lost its Facebook page and its contacts with farmers and customers in February 2011, according to court records. A copy of the decision can be found at http://www.denverurbanhomesteading.org and the case number is 2:14−cv−09216.

The trademark was owned by the Dervaes Institute of Pasadena, CA, self-described in California incorporation papers as a “religious society” and operated by Jules Dervaes and members of his family, according to court filings. The Court decision states that a "substantial evidence" of genericness presented by the Plaintiff includes "the usage of term as a topic category by users of the Meetup website." Court filings show that the Dervaes Institute had issued letters to book authors, book publishers, farmers’ markets and even a public library objecting to their use of the phrase “urban homesteading”.

In April 2011 Denver Urban Homesteading began legal action at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) to cancel the trademark. The Cancellation No. is 92053896. The case file shows that the TTAB never considered the case on the merits. The case file also shows that it was consolidated with another case at Cancellation No. 92053837 and then later deconsolidated and then suspended.

In 2013 the farmers’ market sued to cancel the trademark in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado with case number 1:13-cv-917, but after nearly one year the judge dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. Finally, in December 2014 Denver Urban Homesteading filed suit in California where a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California canceled the trademark because it is generic. The court decision explains that according to federal trademark law, commonly known as the Lanham Act, generic words and phrases cannot be registered as trademarks.

Denver Urban Homesteading was represented by its president, James Bertini in all the referenced cases.

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James Bertini
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