Gustavo Arellano of the OC Weekly has been staying on top of the story about the Dervaeses of Pasadena, California, a family of urban farmers who have trademarked the term "Urban Homestead." (See previous post).
A week ago, the Dervaes Institute sent out a number of DCMA takedown notices to Google, Facebook, and other sites notifying them of "Allegedly Infringing Material" -- that is, web pages that use "urban homestead" without indicating it is a licensed trademark of the Dervaes Institute. (Here's a Trademark DMCA Complaint to Google that was posted to Chilling Effects on February 13, 2011.) As a result of these DMCA takedown notices, several Facebook page owners say their pages have been deleted.
Here's what Arellano has to say about a combative press release the Dervaeses issued early this morning to defend their actions:
[The release states:] "In the attempt to maintain the reputation and integrity of the trademarks, Dervaes Institute has privately informed, to date, a total of 16 organizations, publishers and businesses about the proper usage of the registered terms," the press release reads (their underlining, not ours). "No threat was made against anyone's first amendment rights; yet, there has been a heated argument in the media against what should have been the Dervaeses' normal rights to protect their trademarks."
"No threat"? That's why Facebook groups with the terms were taken down? That's why KCRW-FM 89.9 -- a station that knows a bit or two about First Amendment rights -- took down a story advertising a urban homestead lecture at the Santa Monica Library?
What's even more ludicrous, however, is how the Dervaeses then lash out at "bloggers."
"Blogging is often confused with reporting; and there are now cases where people have engaged in a negative blogging campaign aimed at discrediting the Dervaes family," the press release states. "Whereas professional reporters substantiate their news before publishing stories and are careful not to make slanderous statements, bloggers have no editors and often demonstrate little or no interest in supporting their claims with fact. As a result, irresponsible or malicious blogging can cause harm to people and businesses."
I'm sure there will be more news to come.