I wanted to write to you all to give you more information.
Our notice yesterday on the Sage Mountain Facebook page was to inform others that another very popular, and in this case ‘ancient’ herbal name has been trademarked. Unfortunately, this is exactly what we’ve been concerned would happen. Once a popular herbal product name is trademarked, concerns are raised that many of our most popular herbal products could be trademarked by companies and corporations. We can do something about this; it just takes effort and dedication and your willingness to stand up for our herbal traditions. If we allow the trademarking of 4 Thieves/ Thieves Oil and Fire Cider, every other commonly used herbal product will be up for grabs. The vital thriving small herbal business community that has grown up in the last 4 decades will not be the same; popular herbal products that we’ve sold freely, will no longer be available for us to sell.
We had heard that YLO’s had been granted the trademark on Thieves Oil, but had not heard of them enforcing their trademark on small herbal companies. Our posting came after we received information about a small herbal company being contacted about trademark infringement. Ruthie Hayes, an herbalist who sells 4 Thieves Vinegar on Etsy had received a notice of trademark infringement from Young Living Essential Oils, LC alleging that “certain material on Etsy is not authorized.” Etsy, in accordance with their Intellectual Property Policy deactivated the 4 Thieves listing specified as infringing. Yes, its true that YLO’s product is an essential oil, and Ruthie’s herbal product is a vinegar, but YLO’s now owns the name which means that they are the only company allowed to sell 4 Thieves/ Thieves Oil.
What makes this situation particularly disturbing is that YLO trademarked the name, apparently without anyone in the herbal world aware of it, and now own the rights to a name that is several centuries old. This is the very same thing that happened with Fire Cider. No one was notified until after the public opposition period (that allows people to object) so no one had the opportunity to voice opposition to the trademark. Unfortunately for Ruthie this is the second notification she’s received; the first was from Shire City for selling her wonderful product called ‘Fuego Cider’, which Shire City objected to (never mind that she was selling her product first)! Ruthie comments, “This is the second time that a big company has picked on me about my products. The first being Shire City, for using the tag “fire cider” in my ‘FUEGO CIDER’ product listing. I am so saddened and discouraged because it so blatantly goes against the true spirit of herbalism that we strive to uphold.” Ironically enough, Ruthie is our 2015 ‘Fire Cider Fairy Queen’; she won the award for the best Fire Cider at the International Herb Symposium in 2015!
What we can do:
1) Voice your opposition. Continue to contact Shire City and Young Living Oils letting them know you object to the trademarking of traditional herbal names.
2) Continue to talk to the stores asking them to support the traditional herbal community that has brought the voice of herbalism to the American people. Our objection isn’t about the companies that produce these products or the products themselves, but to the trademarking of names and recipes that have been long considered commonly owned, shared freely, and passed down through the ages. These are our legacy herbal products and need to be maintained for everyone to be able to make and sell as they please. As always, please be polite and courteous!
3) Boycott! Many people in the herbal community feel boycotting is too strong a stance, but refusing to place your money where your values aren’t met is one of the best ways of making your intentions real. Boycott the stores and boycott the product; and let the store owners and buyers know why. The company may be a good company run by wonderful people, but nonetheless, they are trademarking products that don’t belong to them, regardless of the amount of money they paid for them. They belong to all of us!
Young Living Oil about 4 Thieves: Dana Barger (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shire City Herbals about Fire Cider: email@example.com