April 25, 2011 (Mountain View, CA) Sally Abel, Chair of the Trademark Group of Fenwick & West LLP, was recently interviewed on National Public Radio's California Report for the segment "Urban Homesteaders Face Trademark Challenge."
The NPR segment explored the issues surrounding a high profile family within the urban homesteading community who trademarked the phrases 'urban homestead' and 'urban homesteading.' As community members began receiving notices to stop using these phrases and their social networking pages were removed, the question of whether these common terms can in fact be trademarked arose.
While the urban homesteading community members are protesting the removal of their pages, Ms. Abel says there is a reason big social networking companies do not weigh into these intellectual property tussles. "Service providers have to protect themselves from liability and protect their resources so that they are not devoting business time to enforcing trademark law. That's not really the business that they are in."
Ms. Abel offered a few options for the community members who feel the phrases should be allowed to be used freely, including taking the dispute to court or filing a petition to the USPTO to go after the trademark itself.
To listen to the NPR interview in its entirety, click here.