Call for Blog Posts!

Of course, as important as Fire Cider is to us, there is a much larger issue at stake here.
At the very foundation, the issue is really that we live our lives – our vocation, our calling – in service: in service to community, to the plants, to the earth. This doesn’t really translate well in a culture that is being whipped into ever more of a frenzy of seeking fame and wealth at the expense of others, of community, of the earth.

And so as we continue to fight to free Fire Cider from trademark restriction, it’s a good thing to take a minute to reflect on this larger, deeper truth. Do you like to write? Do you keep a blog? If so, then here’s a topic for you:

How can we live our tradition of service to community, to the plants, to the earth, in a culture that values fame and wealth at the expense of these things?

I would love to hear all of our voices writing – and speaking and drawing and singing and expressing on this topic!

Send us your stuff! Links to your blog, your YouTube, your .mp3, your whatever you make to express it – we’d love to share it!

 

We will NOT be silenced!

firey fistWhat happened?

Yesterday, the Free Fire Cider and the World Fire Cider Making Day Event pages were taken down by Facebook. Facebook cited that Amy Huebner, owner of Shire City Herbals, had registered a complaint that these pages infringed on and otherwise violated their rights.

Information from The US Patent and Trademark Office states:
“A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A copyright protects works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art.” link

These pages were not violating Shire City Herbals’ trademark because they were not selling or promoting goods. Shire City Herbals holds a trademark – not a copyright. Rosemary Gladstar authored the copyrighted recipes and has not expressed issue with these pages. It is clear that these pages should be reinstated! Owners of the pages have filed disputes with Facebook.

Take Action: Clearly Shire City Herbals is feeling the pressure of the herbal community. It is important to stay strong, stay positive, and continue to move forward.

1. Email Amy – respectfully disagree with her about her current actions on Facebook and ask her to free the Fire Cider trademark: amyhuebner@gmail.com
2. Contact Facebook and register a complaint
3. Get involved: See what you can do at our Take Action page!
4. Keep informed about the latest developments and events right here at freefirecider.com!

 

Yes, Facebook took our “pages” down

censoredFree Fire Cider and Fire Cider Pages and even our “World Fire Cider Making Day Event” have been taken down by Facebook. Facebook has cited that an Amy Huebner (who just happens to own Shire City Herbals) said that these pages violated their  infringement of her rights.  We have been warned that if we start another page I may be blocked from using facebook entirely. That doesn’t stop anyone else from starting “pages” and citing the “Fire Cider” page as an infringement on our intellectual property.
Do what thou wilt and we will continue to boycott, we don’t need facebook to do it!
What facebook said:

Letter regarding removal of Free Fire Cider Page.

Hello,

We’ve removed or disabled access to the following content that you posted on Facebook because a third party reported that the content infringes or otherwise violates their rights:

Page: Fire Cider

Facebook is not in a position to adjudicate disputes between third parties. If you believe that this content should not have been removed from Facebook, you can contact the complaining party directly to resolve your issue:

Notice #: 263156903851500

Contact Information
Name: Amy Huebner
Email: amyhuebner@gmail.com

If an agreement is reached to restore the reported content, please have the complaining party email us with their consent and include the original reference number. We will not be able to restore this content to Facebook unless we receive explicit notice of consent from the complaining party. Please note that the complaining party is not required to respond to your request.

We strongly encourage you to review the content you have posted to Facebook to make sure that you have not posted any other infringing content, as it is our policy to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers when appropriate.

For more information about intellectual property, please visit our Help Center at https://www.facebook.com/help/370657876338359/.

The Facebook Team

Letter From Rosemary Gladstar Feb 14, 2014

community fire ciderDear Friends,

The saga of Fire Cider continues….

I wish to thank you all for your ongoing support. It’s been amazing to see how many people have mobilized over this issue and who are willing to support free ownership of Fire Cider. To me this issue is larger than just fire cider. However, in this moment it is most important that the name  “Fire Cider” be returned to its rightful owners, the herbal community, many who have been making, using, and selling Fire Cider longer than Shire City Herbals has been in existence. When I first made Fire Cider, named it such, and taught hundreds of other people how to make it through my books, videos, classes, and conferences, I never imagined for a moment that anyone would think they could claim it as their own, or worse, deny others the right to sell it.

I believe in trademark laws, and I believe in supporting the success of small and large ~ yes, large ~ businesses as well but only if they demonstrate the ethics and integrity that have been part of the herbal community and movement since it was seeded in the early 1970’s. But, this is clearly a case where a company claimed ownership of something it neither created nor named. In fact, we have written documentation, including copyrights that Fire Cider was in existence in the 1980’s.

I read Shire City Herbals’ recent response to why they feel they have the right to keep the name they trademarked. Though I thought their letter was well written and very tactful, I also found it very interesting how they have rewritten the story in their best interest. In ‘their story’ they become the victims and the herbal community becomes the bullies who are trying to destroy ‘the small business that puts food on their table’. Though, yes, sadly there have been accusations and less than positive messages hurled from both sides, Shire City Herbals fails to mention the thousands of thoughtful well written emails/letters supporting their business but requesting they drop the trademark and suggesting viable win/win solutions.

They have also failed to mention that when they sent out the cease sales letters, that it meant that other small companies who counted on the sales of Fire Cider to put ‘food on their tables’ no longer could do so. And further, they failed to mention that there are companies who have been selling Fire Cider at farmers markets, local food stores, online, and through their catalogues far longer than Shire City Herbals has been in business. What happens to these companies when they get their cease sales letters?

It was interesting to read in an earlier email from the Shire folks that Dana had learned to make Fire Cider from his grandmother, who he claims fed it to him as a small child.  Dana has stated on his blog that he learned about the name Fire Cider from his roommate who was studying at the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts. That the name came from the “herbal underground”. If he did learn about it in his studies than they knowingly trademarked something that wasn’t truly their own.

Finally, in ‘their story’ they claim they are the protectors of the name Fire Cider and trademarked it so that other larger companies wouldn’t grab it. This seems to be one of their main arguments for holding onto the name. I appreciate that Shire City Herbals feels protective of ‘their’ name and wants to protect big companies from grabbing the trademark but we propose that there is a wiser, fairer and better option, one that benefits everyone, not just their company. From their lenses, they become the crusaders for herbal medicine bringing the knowledge of fire cider and its benefits to the masses, ignoring the hundreds of people that have been doing this quite successfully before them. No one denies their success, but they are following in the footsteps of a huge movement started long before they sent out the first announcement of their company or trademarked their first product.

Perhaps this whole discussion is tied into the intellectual property rights of the herbal community, much like the property rights of indigenous people? Who has a right to ‘own’ these formulas and claim title to names that have been used by thousands of people? What’s the future of popular products/names like Zoom Balls, Kava Chai, Healing Salve, Kloss’s Liniment, or even Elderberry Syrup? Will they too get claimed and tied up in private ownership? It’s an interesting and challenging process. Let’s do what we can to get Fire Cider back so that other companies can sell it in their local farmers markets, local stores, online and in catalogues. Shire City Herbal folks can of course continue as well, but should do so under a trademark of their own unique name like Shire Fire Cider or whatever they choose.

In addition to addressing the issues with Fire Cider, let’s do something bigger. Let’s do what we can to create a legal safe haven, or an ‘Herbally Owned’ trademark (thanks to Sara Katz for this one), where we can safeguard Fire Cider and other popular ‘public’ formulas so this doesn’t occur again. All of this time and energy is well spent, I feel, if we can intentionally create a way to ensure that all herbalists will have equal access to our herbal traditions now and in the generations to come.

This is a great wake up call! I have appointed a core team that I entrust to lead us through this, we continue to need your support however you are able to give it. Let’s go for it, together!

With you in herbal ways,
Rosemary Gladstar
————————————

TAKE ACTION!
> Contact your local stores to inform them of your thoughts on this issue. We are asking people to continue to communicate their concerns in a direct and respectful manner.
> Submit any information you might have through the centralized submission form https://bit.ly/1dHUjtO
> Continue to share the petition https://chn.ge/1nKmS2o
> Volunteer your time and expertise https://bit.ly/1fxN5eF
> Watch this page for the most up to date official information

STAY TUNED FOR:
> Public information available regarding any new developments in legal action.
> Information on details regarding a potential fundraising campaign.
> Printable materials to provide to your local stores, including recipe cards, fliers and takeaways.

How to make a Label and Sell/Consign Something

with labelsHi Everyone!

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

Old References to Fire Cider as a Remedy: Mrs. Maude Grieve

grieveMrs. 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.
https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/g/garlic06.html

Unifying Points of the Anti-Trademark Fire Cider Movement

not trademarked
* 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

 

Letter to Shire City Herbals: Fire Cider Trademark

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)

Sincerely,

–Nicole Telkes
Practicing Herbalist
Director
512-943-2511
Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine

Wildflowers and revolution,
Nicole for FreeFireCider