Are you one of the many herbalists that Shire City Herbals has contacted?
*Shire City Herbals have stated publicly (on a radio show) that they not asking small businesses who are not selling nationally. However, they have since sued 3 small herbal companies. One of these companies had already changed the name of the product to “Fire Tonic”!
*If you are contacted by them, please let us know! Send a screen shot of any interactions.
* We can not do much if you are contacted and asked to change your label. It is up to you if you want to comply with their requests. Please send us a copy of any transactions with Shire City Herbals.
From Rosemary regarding the issue:
To those who have been contacted by Shire City and asked to change their labels,
I am sorry you and your small business has been brought into this mess! We know how hard it is for small herbal business’s to succeed, however, we feel its best to remain firm on the position that we are NOT negotiating or ‘making deals’ with SCH until they revoke the trademark or donate it to the herbal community. If the SCH people decide to ‘come after’ you if you decide not to accept their offer, we will do a public campaign of support for you and your business. In effect, the opposite of what they are hoping will happen. But again, whatever you decide that is best for you, we understand and will support. We also are not trying to harass the SCH folks nor do we want to see their business hurt, but only want them to revoke the trademark Fire Cider so they as well as everyone else can continue to use the name Fire Cider as its always been for the past three decades.
Other herbalists have responded in solidarity with our anti-trademark movement. They have told them that they support the unifying points of the Tradition not Trademark movement, and will not be willing to work with them unless they revoke the TM. This will gain support and momentum for the movement, the boycott and the petition.
Please write up your story so we can post it on our blog and let the public know what is going on! Email your story at email@example.com
With love and green blessings,
Rosemary for Fire Cider /Tradition not Trademark
I was first contacted several weeks ago by Brian Huebner. He contacted me through etsy, with an account that has no purchases, no likes, no favorites, nothing, an account made to just contact small business owner’s like myself and other’s (who have now contacted me through etsy with questions about this process.) I was disheartened by his authoritative and demanding approach and surprised. He wanted me to change my label by the next day. After I responded naturally about how I felt and about what fire cider is to me and the community, he called my response emotional, saying that clearly it was still an emotional issue that Shire City Herbals had trademarked the words Fire Cider. He eventually led into stating that I was attacking him and that he had just wanted to have a conversation, at which this point I told him it was polite to ask for dialogue if that’s indeed what he had intended or hoped for. So, then he took on the face of asking for my advice on how to cooperate. I took his question very seriously and wanted to look into legalities before responding. I also constructed an informational paragraph about the issue and attached it to my newly changed label “FAIR CIDER.” Before I could answer, he came back at me aggressively, stating his company had been around for 3 years where as my shop on etsy had only been open for 6 months… there was no need for me to respond to this immature report so I didn’t.
Then he had my item removed.
I wrote to him asking why. He did not answer me for several days. But I contacted etsy too and told them that I had changed the label like he asked me to. They responded apologetically, that I needed to take it up with him or legally with an advisor. This was very daunting to me, as so far dealing with him had been so unpleasant. I told etsy about his harassing nature and that I didn’t want this experience to effect how I felt about being a member on etsy. I told etsy that he was not responding to me. Soon enough he then responded.
These were the reasons he gave:
-use of “Fire Cider” in your tag cloud at the bottom of the listing.
-use of “Fire Cider” in your product description.
-use of photo editing software to change the photo, not the physical label which says “Fire Cider”.
I did change the label, it was designed to look erased. I expressed this to him. I also expressed that I did not know I could not use a tag “Fire Cider” or use it anywhere in my item description. He never mentioned it. But he had me removed for it. After changing tags, and removing mention of the word “fire cider” from my description he said it was ok for me to repost. I did, but I also kept in one mention of the word “fire cider” to explain to customers that I am clearly not selling fire cider. Brian has been in touch ofcourse, ceaselessly, as if he has nothing better to do. He says he’s not sure if that’s legal or not but he’s looking into it. He also told me it was bad for my business to publicly talk about his business. I told him I wasn’t interested in turning customers away.
Regardless, it’s an ongoing issue with him. I know several other herbalist in town with reports from him and his very snarky and belittling behavior. He’s quite into writing emails often. Even though I dislike having to deal with him, I think it’s important I stand up for myself and that everyone else does too without fear of what will happen if they come after you. I am not sure if he will have me removed again, if I am in violation, I don’t know if I am in violation actually, but I don’t want him to have the satisfaction of having bullied me into something I don’t feel good cooperating with. Like I said, he doesn’t even know if I am violating trademark laws as he mentioned but he is looking into it. Have a look at my listing and perhaps you can enlighten me if I am in danger.
I have looked him up on the internet to better understand who he is. I found his T-shirts for sale. I compared this idea of trademarking shirts to him. How would he sell shirts if all he could do was refer to shirts as short sleeved, contemporary, and widely used to clothe our torso, worn with pants typically- basically. just not saying what it is known as to the public.
We just discovered your story hidden in our blog! We would like to follow up with you about this… email us at freefirecider.com
I sent Brian a letter. He responded right away. I can forward it to you if you like.
He pretty much seems to state that comparing the terms “fire cider” & “root beer” as generic isn’t a concrete comparison because they are nothing alike (I don’t think he understood my reasoning – or simply doesn’t want to acknowledge it).
He maintains he has the legal right to hog the term to himself for commercial purposes.
It’s simple, the guy isn’t interested in the wider herbal community and knows that until someone gets his trademark struck off he will be in the right as far as the law goes. I think that he’s over invested in this and will rue the day that the idea of hijacking this product occurred. Can you even register a drink that’s title has been copyrighted by someone else? It would seem so. Is the original copyright owner in a position to ask for royalties for use of the term ‘Fire Cider’?
I am an independent fire cider maker and was contacted by SCH within days of posting my fire cider on Etsy. I have taken my posting down simply until I have another plan of action, and am very open to suggestions. Here is their message to me, it only varies slightly from their messages to so many others:
My name is Brian Huebner, co owner of Shire City Herbals in Pittsfield MA. I wish we could meet under more pleasant circumstances but unfortunately, one of your listings is infringing on my company’s trademark for the name “Fire Cider”. Please make the following changes to your “Fiyah Cider” listing:
-Please change the name to something that could not reasonably or deliberately be confused with “Fire Cider”. Phonetics count.
-Please change your label and photo therof to something that could not reasonably be confused with “Fire Cider”.
These are Etsy’s policies as I understand them. I will do my best to answer any questions you may have, otherwise I will be checking back in one week to see that these changes have been made.
The message I received on Etsy today from Brian Huebner:
My name is Brian Huebner, I’m co-owner of Shire City Herbals in Pittsfield MA. I wish we could meet under more pleasant circumstances. Unfortunately, there is a conflict with your “Tonic Inferno” listing. My company holds a trademark on the name “Fire Cider”. The solution is fairly straightforward –
Please remove the “fire cider” meta tag at the bottom of your listing.
These are Etsy’s policies for intellectual property protection as I understand them. If you have any questions please let me know and I will do my best to answer them. I’ll check back this time next week to see that this issue has been resolved.