If you are someone who makes herbal remedies, you may have figured out that its a lot easier to make something than sell it. Here is a really basic guide to how you may be able to label and put something on the shelf somewhere. This does not take into account being GMP compliant. It a hypothetical guide.
Part of the Trademark controversy is that if someone owns a trademark and does not take legal action, they can lose there trademark. One strategy may be to flood the market with herb products if someone buys a name and tried to prevent others. It sure seems like it would be hard to police if there were 100s of people selling the product, eh?
So, first thing: You need a label to identify your product. You can usually get free sticker material from behind printing companies in their dumpsters if you can’t afford to purchase any. These days its rather cheap and easy to construct professional looking labels for very little, or keep it creative and draw and glue on your own beautiful art and creations. Some important parts of a label:
- Name of Your Remedy, say something like “Fire Cider”, or “My Fire Cider”, or whatever. You may want to name your product line–or not.
- All ingredients, including latin binomials are generally a good idea. I like to let folks know if something I gathered is wild, or organically grown, or fresh. Make sure and list everything used in the product, including the solvent–like Organic Apple Cider Vinegar for example.
- Write Directions, or Suggested Uses. You may want to add in how much and how often to take the remedy, and how the remedy has been used in the past. You may also want to add anything folks should be careful of–contraindications and the like, if known.
- Let folks know how much of the extract is in the container, say 4oz
- Let folks know how to reach you-an email or website and where it was made–like a zipcode etc.
- You may also want to add a sell by date.
Once you have constructed your beautiful piece of art or very professional looking label – or both! – you have to get your product on a shelf! What I have found is that local businesses, usually ones you have direct connections with–maybe one of your friends is the manager–will often put something on the table or counter, especially if you do it by consignment, or donation, and they usually don’t care as much about compliancy, especially if they get a free bottle! I know I know, this may or may not be the way a profitable business would run it, nor am I suggesting anyone should do this, its simply ideas to help you think of your own ways to spread the word. Maybe the name of your product is Free Fire Cider and there is a link to this blog on the label or something. There are all sorts of ways to think of creative solutions to Trademarking Controversies, I hope this sparks your own.
So, if your product is something like, say “fire cider”, it will probably be a hit. I have been teaching folks to make it for a decade and we have several herbalists that make it here in Austin. I hope you are wildly successful and it inspires you to get more herbal medicine out to the people. Obviously there is a lot more to it than this, but again this is just to ignite the anti-trademark forward.
Wildflowers and revolution,
Nicole for FreeFireCider
Mrs. Beeton (in an old edition of her Household Management, 1866) gives the following recipe for making ‘Bengal MangoChutney,’ which she states was given by a native to an English lady who had long been a resident in India, and who since her return to England had become quite celebrated amongst her friends for the excellence of this Eastern relish.
Ingredients. 1 1/2 lb. moist sugar, 3/4 lb. salt, 1/4 lb. Garlic, 1/4 lb. onions, 3/4 lb. powdered ginger, 1/4 lb. dried chillies, 3/4 lb. dried mustard-seed, 3/4 lb. stoned raisins, 2 bottles of best vinegar, 30 large, unripe, sour apples.
Mode. The sugar must be made into syrup; the Garlic, onions and ginger be finely pounded in a mortar; the mustard-seed be washed in cold vinegar and dried in the sun; the apples be peeled, cored and sliced, and boiled in a bottle and a half of the vinegar. When all this is done, and the apples are quite cold, put them into a large pan and gradually mix the whole of the rest of the ingredients, including the remaining half-bottle of vinegar. It must be well stirred until the whole is thoroughly blended, and then put into bottles for use. Tie a piece of wet bladder over the mouths of the bottles, after which they are well corked. This chutney is very superior to any which can be bought, and one trial will prove it to be delicious.
* The term “Fire Cider” was coined by Rosemary Gladstar. In other words its her intellectual property.. She has published copyrighted books from the 90’s.
* This is not about Shire Cider people as individuals or their business, this is about defending a generic herbal term and keeping it in public use. Shire Fire Cider folks first responses to the issue were not accepted by this community, and we reacted with an organized response. (They have since responded that they will work with us on this issue.)
* We have a petition going to revoke this, with over 3000 signatures in 48 hours. This is the beginning of showing that this term is generic and should not be trademarked.
* There is an active boycott, with herbalists/ supporters contacting retailers of Shire City Fire Cider, and returning their product to the stores. This boycott will end when a resolution is reached.
* This type of tunnel vision capitalism will just open the door to trademarking of traditional medicines for profit. The biggest reason that this is dangerous is because herbs and herbalism have always been widely available to everyone. Corporatizing it will change the landscape of herbs and herbalism into something similar to the current state of the pharmaceutical industry.
* With a strong online presence, we are creating a unified grassroots response to an issue that is important to the herbal community
Dear Shire City Herbals(Brian, Dana and Amy)
This is an exceptionally painful letter to write to you all. I love seeing small herb companies get successful. I love seeing herbal remedies spread around to various shelves. I love Fire Cider. I love your labels. I love that you all seem to be conscious enough to want to market such a great kitchen remedy. I would normally wish you the greatest of successes. Unfortunately, you have chosen to do something, (maybe from getting bad advice or maybe just ignorance on the issue) that is bad for the herbal community, and could create a negative effect on future popular remedies and placing “ownership” legally over something that is thought of as part of our herbal “commons” so to say. It may be that you had no idea there really was a lot of people making Fire Cider for generations and selling it. You seem to be a rather new company and sometimes growing pains can be big. I want to start by saying I think that you could still be very successful and be supported even more right now if you all take the path that maybe your lawyers would have advised against. I ask you to dig deep and really think about this not as business people, but as herbalists, and caring individuals– as people who love Fire Cider.
Herbal Medicine’s tradition is one of being by the people and for the people. Herbalists such as Nicholas Culpepper, and more recently Rosemary Gladstar, have led a long battle to keep herbs in the hands of the general populace, not an elite group, or medical group. Fire Cider is an exciting and popular remedy that many of my students and friends have wanted me to either mass market or they themselves have been pushed in this direction. I have taught 100s of people to make it. Many now sell it in their own neighborhoods and communities. Its delicious. I first learned about it in Eugene, Oregon in the late 90s and have been making it ever since. I read about your German grandmother making a similar concoction. Yes, my Hungarian grandmother in Budapest does as well. It is common. The name is as well in this country.
We all know it takes very hard work, as your responses have defended, to get products marketed well. Most herbalists never do it very well, choosing more of a craft than a product. You obviously have done the time and put energy in, which can be done to popularize just about any remedy. Its the same way some brands of Echinacea became stars, or products like Dr. Singhas Mustard Bath that got into big retail establishments. Now, you may have never heard of one of these items or known that they were popular, or who else knows about them, but that means nothing. They are. I do not think whomever did the research when deciding on the Trademark with Fire Cider did it with due diligence. I really think consulting with an established and knowledgeable herbalist right now would be of help to you.
I really hope you all consider your decision in this matter carefully and with a full heart. Most people are expressing their distaste for your actions, not your company, so please know that if you decide to do what is ethically right, and courageous to protect Traditional, popular herbalism, I will personally support your decision, as a Practicing Herbalist, Director of a Herb School, Activist–oh and human.
I know you probably have some canned responses to this type of letter, and nothing is more distasteful to me right now. I have already read your form letter responses. I ask for a human response. If you need to talk this out, I believe Rosemary Gladstar (who has already tried communicating about this and gotten what I saw as a generic and thoughtless response), is most likely available to you. I know it may be really hard to get yourselves out of where you are at right now, but I think we can figure this out. I really don’t want to see you completely lose all of your business after all of the hard work you have done.
Currently, 2500 people have petitioned against you in 24 hours. People are now contacting retail establishments and returning your product and asking to have your product pulled. I personally just spoke to the buyer of our local coop and am beginning the process of boycotting if you are unable to change your position. I would much rather be spending time on companies like Monsanto and other monsters, but with the direction you are taking, you are acting in the same thoughtless way they are and putting money and the idea that you need to “protect your business” before people’s health.
I love seeing multiple brands of herbals on the shelf. I love that several of my students have their own versions of Fire Cider, and I hope you can begin to reevaluate whether you can come to this situation from a place being part of a larger, and long tradition and community that operates with passion and respect. I want to respect you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you figure out your next step. Wouldn’t it be great if we started a campaign and promoted it helping you to change the name? I really like the idea of Shire Cider that one person put forth. Just remember that whatever your decision, it will echo, and many people are watching(including my new class of 35 herbalists)
Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine
Wildflowers and revolution,
Nicole for FreeFireCider
Greetings! Thank you for supporting this effort!
Shire City Herbals has been approached and is unwilling to revoke the Fire Cider trademark. So, we have to take the next step to protect traditional herbalism… Boycott!
Here is a form letter to give to retailers that sell their brand. You can find a listing of their retailers on their website: http://www.firecider.com/retailstores.html Please send as many as you can and share!
I am writing to talk to you about one of the brands you carry, Shire City Herbals, Fire Cider. Fire Cider is a term invented by Rosemary Gladstar over 35 years ago, and has been shared by her freely since then to tens of thousands of people. She has it in her published books from the 90‘s and pamphlets from the 1970’s. This term is as common as pizza or tea in the herb world. Shire City Herbals have trademarked this term, and have been contacting herbalists and companies that sell Fire Cider, asking them to remove the name “fire cider”. People who have been selling this product for over 30 years. They have taken this public term and trademarked it, so it is no longer widely available to herbalists, herbal schools and the public.
Why should you care about this? This type of tunnel vision capitalism will just open the door to trademarking of traditional medicines for profit. The biggest reason that this is dangerous is because herbs and herbalism have always been widely available to everyone. Corporatizing it will change it into something that looks more like what the pharmaceutical industry looks like right now. This company has been approached, been asked to remove the trademark by Rosemary Gladstar and thousands of herbalists, and they will not do this.
I would like you to consider supporting our boycott and remove Fire Cider made by Shire City Herbals from your shelves until they revoke the trademark. Please consider contacting the company and encourage them to remove the trademark. If keeping herbalism free and for the people is important to you, then this is a great way to show it! There is an active group of over 8000 herbalists that are petitioning the United States Patent and Trademark Office to revoke the trademark. Within the first 24 hours 2,000 signatures were added to the petition and currently there are over 8,000.
You can sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/united-states-patent-and-trademark-office-revoke-fire-cider-trademark
Thank you for your time,
Fire Cider Trademarked????
Please write to Brian James Huebner, the man which Rosemary Glasdstar references in the following letter. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org Let him know that Fire Cider is a product/name that has been around for decades and is not his to ‘own’. You can also contact Etsy and register a complaint about the herbalists who have been selling Fire Cider on Etsy for years being asked to remove their product from their Etsy page.
Warm greetings ,
Thanks so much for letting me know that the word ‘has gotten out’ about this situation. I was so disappointed when I heard about this. I received a note just a few days ago informing me that a man has trademarked this product. I found this rather unbelievable ~ and extremely disappointing ~ since I first made and named this recipe over 35 years and have taught thousands of people to make it. It was a recipe based on many old formulas and has been popular for years (long before my time, I’m sure). So many people make and sell it, as it was given freely to everyone, to be used, to keep healthy with, and to sell. But the audacity of someone to lay claim to the name and then trademark so others can’t use it, is hugely disappointing to me. One of these days I’m going to find out someone has trademarked my ‘famous face cream’! Again, it’s the same situation; everyone can make it, reformulate, rename it, and sell it as they please. But to trade mark it and not allow others to make and sell is purely wrong.
I had written to the gentleman who has claimed this as his formula and his name, in hopes that he’d rescind on the trademark. And really didn’t want to make it public until he had the opportunity to see that he had made a mistake, but his response back to me was simply that it was his formula and he had a right to the trademark. He actually said when he went on line, he or the trademark lawyers, didn’t find any other references to Fire Cider or companies making it!! Well, he must be using a different search engine than google, because when I googled Fire Cider there were many companies, recipes and references to it.
Anyway, I think its time we let people know so they can write to him and let him know this is not his name or recipe to own. Its old, has been used extensively, not only by me but by thousands of others, and is not for anyone to ‘own’ or lay claim to. I think people need to let Etsy know, too, what’s happening, because, if I understand correctly, people who were selling Fire Cider on Etsy were asked to discontinue selling it. Again, horribly disappointing!!!
I will draft a more extensive reply and send it out, but in the meantime, perhaps, you wouldn’t mind posting this so people are aware of what’s happening. Also, I will make a list of all the references in my correspondence course (published since the early 1980’s), my books, and class notes that refer to Fire Cider and include that information.
With you in healing ways,
Some useful links: