Fire Cider Recipes

It's A Medicinal Tonic. It's A Cocktail Mixer. It's Both…and More!

Why And How We Trademarked Fire Cider

Holy wow, we have been totally overwhelmed and caught off guard by the response to our trademark over the last few days. There are only three of us and we don’t want to respond to anyone from a place of fear or anger.

We 100% hear your concerns! You want ‘fire cider’ available to everyone always and we agree with you! We trademarked the phrase with the intention of protecting our business from bigger players in the natural foods industry, not to persecute folks making home remedies and selling their remedies on a small scale. We sincerely apologize for the confusion and fear this has created. Currently, ‘fire cider’ is not a generic term as recognized by the USTPO. Fire Cider was not protected in any way before we registered it. That is why our application was accepted and our trademark granted.

So, what can we do? How can we safeguard the traditional use of the phrase fire cider, while at the same time protecting the businesses we have all worked to build? We need to consult with some professionals to figure out our options. We are all going to need to work together to make something positive happen. Please give us two weeks, til Feb 10th to give you a full update on what our all our options are and where we can go to resolve this in a positive way.

Thank you kindly, Amy, Dana and Brian

Dana explains where our recipe and name came from:  When I was a kid, my German grandmother kept a jar of honey with chopped up onion and garlic soaking in it on a sunny windowsill. This was administered to kids for coughs and colds. During allergy season, it was time for spoonfuls of freshly grated horseradish and tales of uncle Otto on the horse farm- how horseradish was the only thing that worked for his allergies when it was haying time. I could not stand fresh horseradish, so I decided to mix it in with the honey onion syrup to make it palatable. A few years later, a country doctor that my mom worked for, suggested that I eat raw local honey and apple cider vinegar as a tonic and allergy helper. I tried that for a while, but being a “more is more” kind of guy, I remembered the honey/onion/garlic/horseradish remedy and used that with my vinegar instead of just plain honey. I liked it and it helped!

Later in life I moved to Arizona, where I had citrus trees in my yard. I read that citrus bioflavinoids are good for allergies, and that they are water soluble, so I added those to my honey and vinegar tonic. My roommate called it ‘fire cider’, so I thought hey, cool, that’s what it is.  I started using ginger and hot peppers at some point because they are great.  Lastly, I started adding turmeric to my tonic because I was taking Ayurvedic medicine classes and Turmeric is the bomb.    I got the term ‘fire cider’ percolating through the herbalist underground,via a roommate, without attribution.

We started selling our Fire Cider at a small holiday festival in 2010 as a way to help pay the bills.  It was an immediate success, and people wanted more.  We soon realized that to do anything beyond selling a few bottles locally we’d have to make a lot of changes, as selling herbal remedies made in our home is in violation of numerous laws and regulations.  Having a good idea and a solid, original recipe is one thing, but building a business is an enormous undertaking.  When we took our business out of the small world of folk medicine and into the wider marketplace, we had to face a set of rules that is quite different than that of the village herbalist.  It took us much more time and money to get to the stage where we had a legally saleable product than we had ever imagined.  Business insurance, local, state and FDA regulations and inspections, taxes, purchasing a bar code and nutrition panel, lab testing, renting an office, rent and training costs at a certified commercial kitchen, the list goes on.  All of these steps must be done, must be paid for, and are only the minimum requirements, offering no benefit other than allowing us to legally start making our product.  We were full-time volunteers for 2 years, investing every last cent back into the growth of our business.  Early on, while giving out samples at a coop in Albany, we were approached by a trademark attorney.  He specializes in helping small-scale food and wellness businesses navigate and use the dense legal framework.  He was a huge fan of Fire Cider and asked several questions about our product, business and future plans.  He remarked that our product was unlike anything he’d ever heard of.  We were creating a new market, and we were perfect candidates for a trademark.

Trademarks are conferred by the federal government on names of products which are used in commerce.  Fire Cider is the name of our product, and without a trademark we were vulnerable to the attention of larger companies. We are not interested in suing anyone, especially herbalists working outside of the commercial marketplace.  The health food industry has a bright shiny image, but it is still an industry.  The Krafts, Pepsis and General Mills are out there and employ an army of people to hunt for new products and ideas.  Without a trademark, we would be subject to imitation or the very real possibility of a national company copying our brand name AND trademarking it themselves, thus putting our entire business and livelihood at risk.

After researching and discussing our options with our trademark attorney, we filed with the government.  The process of assigning a trademark involves, among other things, searching for previous or existing commercial uses.  When we started our business, we could find no other company making and selling a commercial product called Fire Cider.  The federal government could not find any either, and so we received our trademark like thousands of other business doing their due diligence to safeguard their work.  Our work being the national brand and the entirely new market for vinegar based health tonics we have created over the past 3 years.

When we first started selling our product, we did a lot of in person demos, festivals and markets.  Giving away free samples and engaging people was a very effective way to spread our message.  Between the three of us, we have given out over 250,000 samples in the past three years, 200 gallons of free samples in the past year alone.  Of the hundreds, and then hundreds of thousands of people we met, only a small fraction had ever heard of drinking vinegar for health.  In rural parts of New England maybe one person in twenty was familiar with this idea, in Boston and NYC, that number was more like one in a hundred.  Likewise, calling prospective coops and health food stores was met with almost unanimous confusion when describing our product.  There were perhaps 2 or 3 coops in northern Vermont where the idea was not completely foreign, and Fire Cider was comparable to a variety of traditional tonics local to the area.  In any event, we have spread our product far and wide, and for all of our thousands of customers, Fire Cider refers to a specific taste and our specific recipe.  That name, our brand name, is what a trademark is meant to protect.

Unfortunately, the protection afforded by a trademark is not without its costs.  As our attorney explained, holding a trademark means we must be vigilant as well.  As mentioned earlier, when we started our company we could find no one else selling a commercial product called Fire Cider.  One year ago, an online search turned up 4 “fire cider” products on Etsy alone.  Earlier this month, Etsy listed a total of eleven, and in the past week three more were added.  These recipes all varied broadly in ingredients, size, and cost.  This is detrimental to our brand, as it dilutes the image of quality and affordability which we have worked so hard to achieve.  It was also clear that new companies were entering the market, using the same name and our hard work to sell their product.  After again meeting with our attorney, we were urged to contact Etsy’s legal department.  We are not suing anyone, we don’t want to sue anyone, and we don’t have any plans to sue anyone. We are not chasing down herbalists, we are not demanding people change their recipe or ingredients, we are only asking those herbalists selling commercially to respect our name and trademark.  As a business we are a legal entity, and we have followed best business practices and the advice of the legal community.  We did not write the law,  but we ignore it at our peril.  We are asking all those who want to sell commercially to change the name within that commercial setting, that is all.

We realize that for some herbalists, the name we chose for our tonic is considered a generic term.  We arrived at our recipe and name organically, as described above.  We have spread this idea well beyond the herbal community and into the public at large.  Because of our years of hard work, when the general public talks about Fire Cider, they are referring to our brand.  The upside of this is that we are creating an entirely new market for vinegar tonics.  We are creating awareness for the incredible powers of natural remedies and whole foods medicine.  We are creating a rising tide of interest in this market, and it has and will continue to lift all boats.  Folks are certainly welcome to participate in enjoying this upswell.

It is our goal to spread the word about the power of whole foods and herbal medicine by making and promoting the highest quality product we can.

Sincerely,

Brian Huebner, Dana St. Pierre and Amy Huebner

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43 thoughts on “Why And How We Trademarked Fire Cider

  1. Why not call it “YOUR NAME HERE’s brand Fire Cider”. I too have a family history of using fire cider. And ketchup. And pizza. And toilet paper. You cannot righteously lay claim to a remedy’s name, just like any of the aforementioned household items, barring other’s to use it. Fire cider simply does not belong to anyone, it belongs to everyone.

    • Fire Cider is not considered a generic term by the government- this is the problem!!! If it were we would have happily applied for “Shire City Herbals Fire Cider’ trademark. Give up our trademark? Ok, someone else will trademark it asap and nothing will have changed! I know at least one other person found out ‘Fire Cider’ was trademarked by attempting to do the same. This is a complicated legal issue, we are a three person business and we are working with our trademark lawyer to see what can be done to satisfy all parties to the best of our ability. This will take some time and we appreciate your patience.

      • Shire Cider would satisfy all parties. The governments opinion doesn’t matter – it’s the community you’re completely dismissing.

  2. Shire Cider is fine. This: “When we started our business, we could find no other company making and selling a commercial product called Fire Cider. ” is absolutely crazy. You only started selling a couple years ago. Fire cider has literally been around for decades. You create a successful business by offering a good product and creating lifelong customers who you treat well. You don’t shit on the industry that you’re a part of and ignore the facts when you’re clearly in the wrong.

    • Yup, that’s true, no other COMMERCIAL business. I know there have been lots of folks for hundreds of years making their version, including our grammas. These folks are flying under the radar as they are not registered as a business with the government and that is what gets searched for trademark, not google! And these folks are not being asked to do anything or change anything! We love that folks make their own ‘fire cider’ to sell at local events, to friends, family, give as gifts, share ‘fire cider’ recipes and the like.

      Fire Cider is not considered a generic term by the government. If it were we would have happily applied for “Shire City Herbals Fire Cider’ trademark. Give up our trademark? Ok, someone else will trademark it asap and nothing will have changed! I know at least one other person found out ‘Fire Cider’ was trademarked by attempting to do the same. This is a complicated legal issue, we are a three person business and we are working with our trademark lawyer to see what can be done to satisfy all parties to the best of our ability. This will take some time and we appreciate your patience.

      • I have friends who have been commercially selling fire cider for longer than Shire City has been around – if you lose the trademark and someone else gains it, the community of herbalists is just going to get back into this mode – it is completely unethical. I think you know that, because enough disappointed herbalists have gotten together and let you know. If your product is good it sells itself. Seems like you had a good thing going before this egotistical trademark business. We’re a fiery bunch but a forgiving one – drop the trademark. It was never yours to begin with. Herbalism doesn’t belong to the government.

      • Do you as an herbalist know who Rosemary Gladstar is? Or will you play innocent here too? You can’t tell me that you or your business partners never read, or heard of her fire cider recipe before 2010. Did you think about consulting her first?

      • Hi there, none of us are herbalists, none of us went to herb school and none of us, since we are not herbalists, nor have we ever called ourselves herbalists, had heard of Rosemary Gladstar until after we had started selling our version of Fire Cider. Fire Cider is, after all, a centuries old tonic that comes from all over the world, and has some roots in New England, where we all grew up. Dana learned about Fire Cider from his family elders, from a country doctor from Becket MA. Brian and I learned about Fire Cider from Dana! So, no, we didn’t think about consulting Rosemary, or anyone else first, because we didn’t know anyone else making Fire Cider. Which is why we decided to make as much of it as we could and get it out to as many people as possible! There may be 8000 herbalists who know and love Fire Cider, but we were never part of that group and our aim is to get Fire Cider to the other 313 MILLION Americans who don’t know about it! We had no idea that this community would be so upset about our choosing to sell a traditional tonic, using the traditional name, on a national level. Had we known, we would have absolutely chosen a different name for our tonic. Since we are not herbalists and therefor not part of this close knit community, there was no way for us to foresee this, hindsight is 20/20, I wish we had chosen a different name but we didn’t. And we can not go back and re-do the past 3 and a half years. We must move forward with the decisions we’ve made. Working together, local herbalists selling their tinctures and tonics under whatever name they choose and Herbalists teaching classes along with our national push to spread awareness of food based medicine, it’s my hope that together we can be a driving force in healing our sick country. -Amy

      • Cathy Gouch on said:

        Thank you. You have admited something I keep telliong everyone… you ARE NOT HERBALIST! You are CAPITALIST.
        Shire City mass produces their tonic using PLASTIC hoses and PLASTIC bins. How healthy can it possibly be?

      • Cathy Gouch on said:

        No problem, Amy.

        And Shire City poeple are no different than any other capitalist who is only concerned about their own well being.

        Can I seel my fire cider on the retail site, Etsy? I’m not selling “wholesale”.

        I am please to receive your reply regarding selling fire cider and how Shire City doesn’t plan to do anything to those wanting to sell it.

        I’ve have copied it and will be sure to share it.

  3. Having had the opportunity and pleasure of carrying your product and getting to know you all personally, I have absolutely no doubt that you had best intentions when trademarking your name. I have complete confidence that your hearts and values are in the right place and that you will figure out a solution after conferring with experts. It’s a joy and an honor working with you guys, and you are a model of what a locally owned values driven business can be… Art Ames, General Manager, Berkshire Co-op Market.

  4. Abigail on said:

    “We trademarked the phrase with the intention of protecting our business from bigger players in the natural foods industry, not to persecute folks making home remedies and selling their remedies on a small scale.” If this is the case then why did you threaten Jennifer Waller of Radical Bramble, https://www.etsy.com/shop/RadicleBramble?ref=l2-shopheader-name, if she continued to use the name Fire Cider?

    • Hi Abigail,

      Thanks for your question, to clarify, we did not and have not threatened anyone, we have asked a few people on Etsy to change the name on their labels. Here is a radio show we did which will answer your question about why Etsy is considered a national, commercial market and can not be considered ‘small scale’. The show starts around min 5 after some classical music and commercial. http://data.free103point9.org/r/05/jh/v3/RRR032414.mp3

      • Ellie Bayer on said:

        Amy, people’s freedom to herbal medicine feels threatened. Rosemary Gladstar’s copyrighted recipe has been threatened to not be published and taught the same way as it has been for the last 30 years. I hope you can realize as a health coach how many herbal hearts this trade marking of the people’s medicine has caused. That burn of the heart making such a firey movement. -Elli

      • HI Ellie,

        Not to worry, there is no way that our TM in any way infringes on Rosemary’s copyright or anyone else’s copyright, TM or patent! Our TM and Rosemary’s copyright protect two very different types of work and in no way overlap or interfere with each other. There is no reason why Rosemary can not continue to do exactly as she has done for the last 30 years. In fact, I hope she will because her work is very important! Our TM and traditional herbal medicine had been co-existing for a year and a half before anyone even noticed and they can and will continue to co-exist. A TM brand name and a traditional medicine can co-exist! And even then there have only been a handful of folks, who, because they sell on a national platform, had to change the name of their tonic to something slightly different. No one else has any reason to do anything differently or change anything they are doing. Teach, sell books, sell classes and workshops, continue to share Rosemary’s recipe and many other recipes, none of these things are threatened in anyway by our TM or anyone else’s trademarked product.
        A trademark has a very narrow scope: it protects the name of a product being sold commercially ie on a national level, usually by someone with a licence to sell whole sale. Rosemary and many other herbalists sell classes, workshops and information, like books, which our TM has nothing to do with. Herbal Medicine is a folk tradition and no one person, business or entity can take that away from people or change it, that’s impossible! A TM can not stop anyone form sharing information, teaching traditions, writing books, teaching classes, making medicine, calling it whatever name they choose, even selling this medicine locally, etc. Here’s a link to a radio show we did, hopefully this will further answer your questions: http://data.free103point9.org/r/05/jh/v3/RRR032414.mp3, the show starts around min 5. Thanks for your email.
        Amy

    • William G on said:

      I came across this conversation quite by chance. I can not think how liberal minded people can be so very heartless and cruel. Heartless and really feel justified by it. If this is what we get from both the Right and Left…we are doomed as a society. Be well, and be a peace. There is only one remedy for hatred…

  5. Cathy Gouch on said:

    Amy,
    Does that mean we will be able to sell our fire cider at craft fairs etc without having to change our lables which have fire cider on them?

    • HI Cathy,
      Yes, you can sell whatever you like, under whatever name you choose, locally, non whole sale, just like folks have been doing and should continue to do.
      I will not be posting your and Ellen’s other responses because calling us names is not appropriate. It is possible for people to respectfully disagree and I encourage you to speak from a place of loving kindness. Your way of casting us as outsiders/other because we ‘are not part of the herbal community’ so that you can call us names and accuse us of things that are false, like being ‘capitalist opportunists’ ‘in it for the money’ is no different than the folks who watch Fox News and get angry at people who don’t look like them or talk like them. We are all brothers and sisters, we have one mother and we all need to work together to heal our sick Mother Earth and our sick society. Singling us out because we are not part of your group does not serve anyone. If you have something constructive and supportive to say, you are welcome to be a part of the solution.
      Thanks,
      Amy

      • Cathy Gouch on said:

        btw Amy, since one uses their own name and sells directly to the buyer, Etsy sells are not done via “wholesale”.
        Shire City’s attempts to kick people out of that market place is wrong. It is a perfect example of Shire City keeping others from selling their own brand of fire cider.

  6. Art Ames on said:

    Oh boy. Once again, I feel compelled to weigh in. I am a local natural foods co-op retailer. Amy and her team have bent over backwards to find a middle ground to both protect their investment and to honor the tradition. It seems that the remaining significant bone of contention is that there is disagreement because the trademark would apply to selling other fire cider products on Etsy. Cathy, you are correct. Etsy isn’t wholesale, BUT it is being sold commercially on a national platform. That’s merely a fact. Ms. Huebner and her team certainly have the right to be far more aggressive in enforcing their TM, but instead are respecting the community at large. It’s fine to disagree, but everyone here means well. Rather than arguing back and forth, might I suggest that those individual herbalists who take issue contact these folks directly, get clarification, and likely find a middle ground? These are good people, not corporate enemies. Just imagine if Dean Foods had decided to TM “fire cider” and come out with their own version. This protects the name from that type of move. Is there a guarantee? There is not, but I know these people, and so does our local community. These are good people with no intention to cause harm.If you find yourselves in the geographic area, stop and visit them. Frankly as herbalists and naturalists, true health and healing starts with a calm focus and an attitude that leads to understanding and not confrontation. Art Ames, Berkshire Co-op Market. http://www.berkshire.coop

    • Cathy Gouch on said:

      Art,
      Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

      Upon learning about Shire City’s trademarking fire cider, Rosemary Gladstar contacted Shire City regarding this issue and was met with, “Too bad.” I think that did not bode well with the Herbalist community and I believe Shire City’s initial response to this issue, which wasn’t that pleasant, was part of the vehement reaction.

      As for Etsy sells. Etsy is nothing more than an online “craft fair and Farmer’s Market”. The individuals make their products, stores their products, has contact with the buyer and is responsible for getting their product to the person or persons who have bought it. If I have 6 bottles of fire cider and sell all 6 on Etsy or EBay, does that really make me a wholesaler? I think not. So Shire City has made it impossible for a little guy to make any money while they sell to hundreds of retail stores across the country. Where is that middle ground?

      Just think if someone was able to trademark the word “salsa” or hummus” or “maple syrup”? Where would that leave companies like Hot Mamas or Hedgie’s? The US government was clearly clueless about the term when granting their trademark. No surprises there.

      While the folks at Shire City may very well be “good people” they have not done a very good thing.

      Art, I know you know the people at Shire City are not even herbalist, nor claim to be. They mass produce their tonic using plastic hoses and plastic bins; how “healthy” can their product be? How robust can the herbs they use be? How long do they let the tonic meld in their plastic bins? Months? If, yes, that seems kinda yucky. And if, no, then the consumer isn’t getting much more than vinegar.

      Frankly all these “Health Food Stores”, including yours, are being being hoodwinked. But that is how capitalism works for many these days.

      I produce my product using the finest organic herbs. When purchased, they are wrapped in paper. When made, I use only glass at every step of the process. Then, as an extra bonus, my jars are buried in the ground for 3 months. Now that is a health tonic!

      Again, thank you for your thoughtful reply.

      Respectfully,
      CG
      PS By trademarking the term, Shire City has become the corporation which has now shut out all small local producers.

      • Hi Cathy,

        You are making a number of incorrect assumptions about how we make Fire Cider.

        -Regarding Etsy and other online sales, folks are free to sell their tonics under any other name they can think of that is not Fire Cider. No need to change their ingredients, formulas or process, just the title. The little guy can do whatever they would like and make all the money he or she wants to, with another name.

        -Regarding the quality of our ingredients, everything but the honey we use is 100% Certified Organic by Bay State Organic. The requirements to be certified are quite stringent and include audits, inspections, and a whole lot of detailed record keeping and paperwork. The honey we use is 100% raw unfiltered wildflower honey from a fantastic family farm in Massachusetts.

        -Regarding the process and equipment we use, we have gone to great and expensive lengths to use the best equipment and process we can. We infuse Fire Cider for a minimum of 6 weeks in our winery-grade stainless steel vessels, to ensure that our product is the most potent and healthy it can be! While that is going on we gently heat the honey in our custom built honey melter to 115 degrees to ensure that all the beneficial living enzymes and delicious flavors stay intact. Then we press the roots and fruits in an awesome juice press, blend the vinegar and juice with the honey, and bottle it fresh with no further processing or heating.

        Have you tried our product? I would be happy to mail you a sample so that you can see for yourself that it is oh so much more than just vinegar. Just shoot me an email at dana@firecider.com with your mailing address and I’ll send you a sample.

        Best,
        Dana

      • Cathy Gouch on said:

        I wouldn’t need to try your product, as I have been producing my own tonic for years. Mine includes many immune boasting herbs, as well as stored underground for several months in glass containers.

        Your product is massed produced… no biggy. My objection comes with your cutting off people from being able to sell fire cider in whichever market they wish.

        Fire cider is not yours to own. Fire cider is fire cider and by any other name it is not fire cider. Why didn’t you just trademark “Shire City Fire City”?

        I chalk it up to your not thinking it through and don’t have the moral fortitude to make it right … or you are not such nice people $$$.

  7. Wow, Cathy, is it really necessary to attack the morals, intelligence and kindness of people you who you don’t know?! We have explained many times why we can’t TM Shire City Fire Cider and why we can’t go back in time and re-name our one product based on the unspoken, unwritten rules of a community we were never a part of. We have also explained many times that we are not preventing anyone from selling anything. The folks running freefirecider.com have been doing their best to spread lies and rumors about us so I can see how you have gotten a lot of bad information about what is actually going on here.

    The next time you are at your co-op or local grocery store, look closely at any/ every package, from supplements to flax crackers, you’ll be hard pressed to find any item for sale that does not have a TM or and R with a circle around it for registered trade mark. Super Echinacea is a registered TM, has that stopped people from knowing how to use echinacea, has it stopped herbalists from making tinctures, taking it, teaching about it, writing about echinacea and selling echinacea products? Nope!

    As far as other folks who want to sell their vinegar and honey tonics commercially having to use any other name aside from Fire Cider, well, I still think Shakespeare said it best in ‘Romeo and Juliet’:
    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;”

  8. http://www.spiritofchange.org/Fall-2014/The-Fire-Cider-Trademark-Debate/

    The buzz spread quickly in the spring of 2014 concerning an apple cider vinegar and herbal tonic called Fire Cider. This delicious, easy-to-make health product had recently been featured on the Dr. Oz Show by Amy Heubner of Shire City Herbals in Pittsfield, MA, a company that also recently trademarked the product name.

    Because Fire Cider is a popular home remedy produced and sold by other small herbalists in stores and online, word of the new trademark restriction quickly landed two reader-submitted blog posts on the Spirit of Change website asking readers to respond and take action to “Keep Fire Cider Free.” It was not long before Shire City contacted Spirit of Change to ask why we were posting misleading information.

    In response, Spirit of Change invited Dana St.Pierre of Shire City Herbals and Rosemary Gladstar of Sage Mountain in E. Barre, VT, to give us their facts and let the readers give us their feedback. Respond to editor@spiritofchange.org or comment on the article online at http://www.spiritofchange.org.

    Shire City Herbals
    June 24, 2014
    By Dana St.Pierre

    Hi There,

    I’m Dana St.Pierre, co-owner of Shire City Herbals, with my lovely wife, Amy, and brother-in-law, Brian. We make and sell a tonic named Fire Cider, which can be found in many stores and at our website, FireCider.com. We trademarked the term Fire Cider for our tonic over two years ago, something that recently has stirred up some controversy in the herbalist world. If you are interested in hearing more of the back story, we have described how we started our business and how we came to trademark the name at greater length here.

    I recently became aware of two editorials published in Spirit of Change [reader-submitted blog posts at spiritofchange.org] and I’m compelled to address the baseless, specious claims made in these editorials and some of the websites they link to.

    The fundamental thing that jumps out at me when reading the previous editorials is the overall narrative being used to describe the situation. These editorials and all of the linked materials seem to proceed from the basic understanding that this trademark issue is a conflict with two main characters: the herbal community on one side, and Shire City Herbals on the other. Us vs. them, good vs. bad. This dualistic thinking is right there in the name they chose for their organization: Tradition not Trademark. From this flows the solution they have been pursuing, that of threatening our business in order to “get Fire Cider back for the herbal community.”

    This effort has been ineffective as a way to reach that goal and the oppositional mindset is obscuring the true nature of the issue. Something about this issue seems to be allowing otherwise rational and ethical people to take liberties with the facts to advance their argument, and in the process do little to clearly explain or resolve a moderately complex legal situation. The people behind freefirecider.com have falsely and maliciously claimed that we are suing, or threatening to sue, other herbalists, that we have put herbalists out of business, and a variety of other nonsense. To directly address all of the inaccurate and misleading claims made in the previous editorials and on freefirecider.com would take up too much space here, so for those interested in more details I have collected them here.

    In addition to spreading this unbalanced version of things, they have also been actively encouraging their followers to harass us and the stores that carry our product. We removed the reviews section of our Facebook page because we received hundreds of spurious negative reviews, many of which were profane, abusive, and shocking. People wished for us to fail and be rendered homeless, called us “worse than Monsanto” and used a grab bag of zesty slurs. Our retailers have been verbally abused and had their time wasted with coordinated phone calls from around the country. After a local co-op decided to keep our product on the shelf despite demands from a few upset individuals that it be removed, someone started stealing bottles of Fire Cider as some sort of bizzare protest act. This is what happens when you whip up emotion and downplay factual deliberation of a complicated issue.

    The freefirecider.com people claim that they have been urging the public to call our retailers in order to “get Fire Cider back for the herbal community, not hurt anyone’s business.” Sadly, they are misleading people on both points: there is no way that these activities could meet that goal, and they have been directly hurting the business we rely on for our livelihood. My opinion or your opinion or Rosemary Gladstar’s opinion on what is generic are all irrelevant. It is the US government who decides, and that’s that.

    The only way to make a term legally generic is to take the issue up directly with the USTPO [United States Patent and Trademark Office]. These folks have not done so until last week, instead focusing their ire on us, and doing nothing to change the underlying legal grounds of the issue. That is why I call this whole campaign harassment. They have created a campaign to impugn our good name, spread rumors instead of facts, and attempted to drive a wedge between us, our stores, and our customers. Their activities amount to business torts against us. There is a clear path to getting what they say they want, but they have not taken it for many months now. Ignoring a legal and ethical means of achieving your goals and instead relying on libel and spreading rumors is harassment.

    Now that they have finally chosen to focus some of their efforts on getting what they want through the appropriate legal channels, hopefully things will settle down. This is a legal issue and will only be fully resolved one way or the other through the system that exists to make exactly this kind of decision. Now would be an appropriate time for the folks behind freefirecider.com to publicly acknowledge that they have been spreading libel and rumor, instead of fact, tell their following to stop disseminating this incorrect information, stop encouraging the harassment of our small business partners, and remove all of this harmful material from their website.

    One thing everyone involved seems to agree on is that herbal medicine is the medicine of the people, and that this is a very good thing. What I mean by that title is that herbal medicine is generally simple, affordable, and accessible to everyone. That’s why almost everyone’s grandma had a collection of teas, tonics or other preparations up her sleeve. Also a key part of “medicine of the people” is that there is no central authority or source of information. It’s a tradition that in my experience is passed on person-to-person through families and communities as a part of everyday life. Everyone in my family just knew that mint tea is for upset stomachs, chamomile is for cranky kids, and garlic is for colds. This type of herbal lore is transmitted through a vast interconnected network of knowledge, with centers of collected wisdom in teachers such as Ms. Gladstar, but which is mostly diffused throughout the people. This diffuse nature is another important part of what I mean when I say “medicine of the people,” and that nature is why I don’t understand the feeling that our trademark is somehow threatening the herbal tradition.

    How can a trademarked name threaten an ancient body of knowledge like the worldwide tradition of herbal medicine? Can this situation really be summarized in a dualistic formulation like tradition vs. trademark, or is there a larger holistic point of view that shows this to be a minor disagreement of commerce that will have next to no effect on the greater tradition? Can a trademark and herbal tradition coexist without worry? I think so.

    Everyone out there will continue to make their own tonics and call them whatever they want. Our trademark will have no impact on people writing books, teaching classes, talking, sharing and blogging about their tonic recipes. Nobody is going to forget how to make their own remedies just because we have trademarked a name. In fact. I think the opposite will happen, and is already happening in a small way; we are taking the name and idea of spicy vinegar tonics out into the larger world of commerce and turning people on. Amy was invited to share her favorite home remedy on the Dr. Oz Show and told a national TV audience to make their own. She had access to a national platform to advocate for DIY herbal medicine because of Fire Cider’s high profile in the marketplace, which we reached because we have the security of a trademark to protect the investment needed to get there.

    Best,
    Dana St.Pierre

    • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kL1_kduECtT9SJ_vP8Fvo6DqTiR_F-qABptzuUzeU-Y/edit
      The people who run freefirecider.com have made numerous false, misleading, inflammatory and libelous claims about our business and our Fire Cider trademark. We have challenged them on these statements, and they have quietly changed some of the content on their website, blog and Facebook page without issuing any kind of public retraction or even acknowledgement that they had crossed the line into falsehood. They have repeated this pattern of loud but demonstrably false claims followed by quiet edits multiple times. As a result of this avoidance of accountability and responsibility for their actions, the older and even more inaccurate versions of their letters, posts and printable material continue to circulate, people continue to be misinformed as to the actual facts, and our retailers continue to hear outrageous nonsense about us. Even the newer edited materials still contain many libelous distortions and falsehoods.

      The following quotes were pulled from various parts of the freefirecider.com website and blog in June 2014, and were current until changes were quietly made on July 12, 2014 in anticipation of the publication of an editorial I wrote. I’ve noted the new changes as I’ve been made aware of them, with links to the older versions for comparison. I will note any additional changes as I become aware of them.

      Claims that we think we invented the term/recipe.

      “They have taken this term, and claimed that they invented it.”
      link to page prior to 7/12/2014 edit link to current edited page, no acknowledgement or apology
      “…they remain convinced that one of the founders of Shire City Herbals created the recipe and formula.” – link

      These and similar claims have appeared many times, and all are equally false. We never claim to have invented the term, or the general concept of spicy vinegar tonics, period. The general formula of vinegar + honey + herbs is as old as the hills and we’ve never claimed otherwise. Every single bottle we’ve ever sold says that this is our version of an old-fashioned remedy. We say this in person, on our website, on our blog and on national television.

      Claims that we are preventing people from using any particular recipe or formula.

      “With national companies potentially bullying smaller herbal producers with the legal system, forcing them to stop using generic, cultural, historical herbal terms, so that they can capitalize off of the term, and monopolize the industry with the standardized product. A scenario like this could lead to restricted access to quality, small batch, herbal remedies made locally and distributed locally.” – link
      “Herbal formulas have always been widely available to everyone. Fire Cider may just be the beginning. Trademarking herbal remedies for profit may ultimately change the herbal market into a place where the accessibility, wisdom and effectiveness of herbs is owned by the few and no longer available to the public.” – link

      These and numerous similar statements imply that we are preventing people from using a formula. This is totally false. Many of these statements also confuse trademarks, patents and copyrights. A trademark only covers the name of a product in the commercial marketplace. People can continue to sell whatever they were selling as fire cider, with the same exact formula, just with a different name on the label.

      Claims that we are preventing the public from using the name fire cider for non-commercial purposes.

      “The trademarking of common known herbal terms is problematic not only for small companies and fellow herbalist but for the future of common herbal medicine as we know it. It threatens to remove the right of the people to carry on long held herbal traditions while also instilling fear of legal action. All plants, herbs, and their medicinal recipes should remain free for public use as it has been for thousands of years. …Will large corporations finally be given an inroad to complete control of ‘the medicine of the people’?” – link This boycott letter was available for download and in use until 7/12/2014, when it was removed with no acknowledgement or apology
      “This anti-trademark movement is working towards keeping traditional herbal terms in the hands of small businesses, teachers, and the general public.” – link
      “Trademarking traditional terms will change the herbal market into something that looks more like the pharmaceutical industry, with corporations owning words/terms that were previously accessible to the public.” – link
      “They have taken this public term and trademarked it, so it is no longer widely available to herbalists, herbal schools and the public.” – link
      This anti-trademark movement is working towards keeping “Fire Cider” and other traditional herbal terms in public domain. The goal is to keep herbalism accessible to all.” – link

      These statements imply that we will somehow prevent the public from teaching, publishing, or discussing recipes or remedies. This is totally false and misleading. Again, a trademark only covers the name of a product that is commercially for sale. Everyone has been and always will be free to write about, teach, blog, discuss, make, take and share recipes under whatever name they care to use. Make your version of Fire Cider at home, share it, write books about it, teach classes, have fun, you have our full support and encouragement.

      Claims that we are have or are trying to put people out of business.

      “Shire City Herbals is forcing people to stop selling their products and are asking retailers to remove them from the market.” – link This boycott letter was available for download and in use until 7/12/2014, when it was removed with no acknowledgement or apology

      This is also not true. We informed Etsy of our trademark, and are asking people to change the name of their product as sold on Etsy. That is all. They can change the name, sell all they want, and more power to them. We have been in contact with exactly zero retailers and have made exactly zero requests for anyone’s product to be removed from anywhere. This is in contrast to the freefirecider.com people, who are actively attempting to have our product removed from stores by encouraging people to call our retailers with their false and misleading version of what is going on.

      Claims that we are threatening people with lawsuits or other legal action:

      “The manufacturers have trademarked this term, and have started taking legal action against herbal companies that sell Fire Cider.”
      link link link These 3 boycott letters were available for download and in use until 7/12/2014, when they were removed with no acknowledgement or apology
      link to page prior to 7/12/2014 edit, it’s down at the bottom, link to current edited page, no acknowledgement or apology
      “They have also failed to mention that when they sent out the cease and desist letters…”
      link to page prior to 7/12/2014 edit, it’s down at the bottom, link to current edited page, no apology
      link
      “They have begun taking legal action against other companies and fellow herbalists…” – link This boycott letter was available for download and in use until 7/12/2014, when it was removed with no acknowledgement or apology
      “In response to the onslaught of ‘cease and desist’ orders and legal action…” – link This boycott letter was available for download and in use until 7/12/2014, when it was removed with no acknowledgement or apology

      These and other similar claims are overblown and misleading. Older versions of freefirecider.com claimed that we were suing people, which is a lie. When this was pointed out they quietly changed some of the wording to the more nebulous “legal action” or “cease and desist letters”. On 7/12/2014 they did some more editing and removed some, but not all of these claims. A Cease and Desist letter is a very specific legal document that threatens to bring a lawsuit unless the recipient Ceases and Desists some activity, and these letters either exist or they do not. In this case none exist because we’ve sent none, we have no plans to, and this is another lie. The sole legal action we have taken is to notify Etsy.com of our trademark. Hardly an onslaught. We have continued to try to communicate with the small number of sellers on Etsy who are involved about our trademark, but there have been no lawyers, no threats to sue, and certainly no actual lawsuits.

      Claims that we have rejected reasonable middle ground solutions
      “The call for a win/win solution was met with resistance and Shire City Herbals has made it clear that they will do whatever is necessary to protect the newly trademarked name.” – link This boycott letter was available for download and in use until 7/12/2014, when it was removed with no acknowledgement or apology
      “Proposed win/win solutions rejected” – link This boycott letter was available for download and in use until 7/12/2014, when it was removed with no acknowledgement or apology
      “They have declined offers from the herbal community to work together to get the name recognized as generic.” -link
      “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.” – link

      We have said in our public statements and in private communications that we would love to hear a solution that would both meet our desire to protect our work and the herbal community’s desire for the name to be generic. Unfortunately no such solution has been forthcoming other than our suggestion of a direct petition to the USTPO by a party with legal standing. While this may not sound satisfying to some, we have to work within the legal system’s constraints, and that’s the only solution we’ve identified. Many folks have proposed plans that sound great on the internet but are legally unworkable. We didn’t reject these ideas out of hand, we spent many expensive hours consulting legal experts to learn that these ideas of shared community trademarks and so forth just aren’t viable. We would still like to hear any other creative ideas to resolve this to everyone’s satisfaction that will actually pass the scrutiny of legal experts.

      Claims that we are a big business:

      “They are not a ‘small local business’ but a national company whose goal is to monopolize an industry with a product.”
      link
      link to page prior to 7/12/2014 edit, in “Fire Cider a tradition…” section, link to current edited page, no acknowledgement or apology

      This is so out of proportion I barely know where to begin. Our business is three people who hired a part time helper a few months ago. We make our product in a shared community kitchen in Greenfield, MA. We run the business out of our apartment. How on earth does that make us a national company? As far as our goal being to monopolize an industry, this is the first I’ve heard of this being our goal. Which industry are we trying to monopolize exactly, the entire multi-billion dollar herbal supplements industry? This is just hysteria.

      Claims that I must have gotten the recipe from Rosemary Gladstar

      “Dana, the partner who claims this is his ‘family recipe’, was also a student at a wholistic school of healing that had an herbal component where Fire Cider could easily have been included in the curriculum.” – link
      “However, there are many different versions circulating online of how Dana learned to make Fire Cider, including the possibility that he learned about it during his time at the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts. If he did learn about it in his studies than they knowingly trademarked something that wasn’t truly their own.” – link

      This is nothing but baseless internet rumor-mongering that can be easily disproven with actual facts, like my class transcript. I’ve never taken an herbalism class anywhere, ever. I’ve read a few books about herbal healing, but I had never heard of Mrs. Gladstar until I started getting emails from her about the trademark. Earlier versions of this claim had me at a school I’ve never even heard of, let alone attended. When I sought to nip this particular rumor in the bud with an email directly to Mrs. Gladstar, correcting her about where I went to school and what I studied, she corrected the school name but continued with the same false claim.

      Claims that they are not trying to hurt our business.

      “Our intention is get ‘Fire Cider back for the herbal community’ not to hurt anyone’s business.” – link

      Organizing a campaign to call our retailers using the lies and distortions outlined in this document, in an attempt to convince them to stop selling our product is clearly an attempt to hurt our business. I don’t know how anyone can possibly convince themselves otherwise.

  9. Pingback: The Fire Cider Controversy…my thoughts | The Tangled Herb

  10. I have only recently heard of this controversy. I just read both sides of the story.
    As a practicing herbalist, I will stick my neck out and say; I support your company and Fire Cider is an excellent product.

    Obviously the situation is not ideal, but what’s done is done. I wouldn’t give up the name if I were in your shoes. You’ve brought fire cider out of obscurity, that’s awesome!

    And I agree, I’m happy you have the name and not a company like proctor & gamble. Just don’t sell your company to proctor & gamble later, please.

    When your company gets big and starts to burn you out and you want to sell it, I would like to suggest that you sell it to your employees and become a worker-owned co-op so you can profit share and stay locally owned.

    • Hi Rhea, thank you so much for your comment of support and for reading into both side of this rather complex legal issue. Don’t worry, we have no plans or desire to ever sell Shire City Herbals! I love your idea of one day becoming a co-op, an organic evolution of what we do now, which is equal profit sharing with all employees. All the best to your and your practice! -Amy

    • Cathy Gouch on said:

      What is the difference if Shire City trademarks Fire Cider (which they did not create) or Proctor & Gamble, if herbalist and others are not permitted to use the name “Fire Cider”? It’s like trademarking the name: salsa.

      The issue is not “complex”. In fact, it is very simple. A small group of capitalist, not even herbalist, trademarked a name and product, which did not belong to them, and those who have been selling fire cider for decades can no longer do so using its proper name.

      I think it is interesting that on their label is a pirate.

      By guess is, being the good little capitalist Shire City folks are, they would not only jump at a chance to sell this to the highest bidder, but I wouldn’t put it pass them to start looking for a buyer.

  11. just a capitalist on said:

    Wow, so “capitalist” means worthless pig to you people, get as grip! I for one have the recipe to make a fire cider at home, but would love to be able to go buy a bottle ready made and save some work. These guys are not Monsanto, for heaven’s sake. Think the difference between Kleenex tissues and Scott tissues, we call both kleenex. But y’all are probably so self righteous about your purity and superiority to the rest of us unenlightened commercial whores that you don’t use corporate tissues. Rude, I know, but that is what your posts have been. It’s not evil to make a living and sell something for money, yes, even a product made from herbs. So guess I have to spend hours making my own or go buy Benadryl when I get sick cause the trademark wasn’t styled exactly the way you want? Y’all can still trademark your own fire cider if you want to take the time and money to do it, and if it’s been around for years you could have before now but you didn’t, so GET OVER IT!

    • Cathy Gouch on said:

      Clearly you are misinformed. No we can’t “trademark” our own fire cider name. Shire City has made sure no one can use the words: fire cider. It is like trademarking the word salsa. Can you imagine all the salsa producers not being able to call their product: salsa? “Kleenex” is the name of their tissue, but they didn’t trademark the word: tissue.
      There were (and still are, despite the lawsuits) people who have been making and selling this tonic for decades. So you could have easily bought fire cider from a number of places…. and a better product. Not mass produced using plastic containers, shovels, etc.
      It’s not evil to to make a living by selling a product. Heck! That is part of the problem. Many of us have been making a living selling our own brand of FIRE CIDER; and no longer can all it that. What’s the big deal? Fire cider is fire cider. Not fire cyder, nor fire tonic.
      Shire City’s defense is they didn’t want a big company to trademark the name, making it so others couldn’t sell their own fire cider; but they have done exactly that.
      The Trademark agency clearly made a huge mistake by allowing the word: fire cider to be trademarked. And Shire City made a huge mistake by trademarking a word they did not create or own.

    • Arturo Silveira on said:

      Is the fiery Cathy Gough the only one commenting on behalf of the free firecider movement? So limited is the scope of dialog on this forum, so inflammatory are Cathy’s comments over and over again, and how delicately and well worded the responses are from the forum hosts and casual consumers of herbal formulas. I wonder what the motivation might be to limit the dialog to such distractionary discussion topics?

      • Arturo,
        Unfortunately many of the comments are not published because they contain profane/nasty language or threats and do nothing to add to the discussion. For example, stevensmith669 started his (unpublished) comment with “I cannot tell you how much I loathe the people who run this company.” Strong language from someone whose never met any of us. bryn.lmt writes “you are a liar. you have no compunction to ordering “small cottage” herbalists to stop selling Fire Cider. Shame on you and may you reap the nasty you have sown.” When we are definitely NOT asking anyone to stop selling anything. assmaster_75 starts their comment with “Super Echinacea isn’t a plants name you f***ing mongoloid” Here’s one by Cathy that didn’t make it either “By guess is, being the good little capitalist Shire City folks are, they would not only jump at a chance to sell this to the highest bidder, but I wouldn’t put it pass them to start looking for a buyer.” Pure, unfounded speculation. Shire City Herbals is family owned and operated and always will be! Many comments contain threats like this one from Bre “you will continue to be hassled for the rest of your sad lives.” These comments are not about having a conversation, learning more, or anything productive. Thanks for your comment and question.

      • Cathy Gouch on said:

        Are we reading the same thread?
        My purpose is to inform people as to what has happened in Shire City trademarking a product which they did not create nor does not belong to them; and how the people at Shire City have impacted many herbalist (and herbal communities) who have been selling their brand of fire cider long before SC was even on the scene. I, for one, have been selling my fire cider (and I refuse to call it anything but that, because salsa by any other name is still salsa) for the last 15 years. What year did Shire City sell their first bottle?
        Amy has always done a fine job of staying calm and professional; which is appreciated.
        The real mistake was made by the trademark agency which had zero knowledge of the product they thought was okay to trademark and Shire City not coming to a compromise.
        If Shire City was trying to protect their product, why didn’t they trademark “Shire City Fire Cider”? Even Real Pickles, didn’t try to trademark the word “pickles”. Or Chubby’s didn’t trademark the word “bbq sauce”. What if Stacey’s tried to trademark the word, “chips”?
        People can say what they want about me, but that does not take away what Shire City did in trademarking a product they didn’t create or own, therefore impacting many, many other people across the country.

  12. Cathy Gouch on said:

    Amy, Are you saying I am able to sell my fire cider on EBay and other marketplaces like that? Can I sell my fire cider to Green Field’s Market and other co-ops in the area?

  13. Pingback: The Fire Cider Controversy: My Thoughts…a reblog | Wise Waters Botanicals

  14. Hello, I sent this email to freefirecider.com on the contact page but have not heard back. So I thought I’d try to reach the community here-

    I’ve been doing some research since I recently heard about this ‘trademark controversy’. As a community herbalist I am concerned about some things I have been hearing and reading.

    First – Have you heard that Pregnancy is trademarked? PMS® and Women’s Liberty® are also trademarked. The word Traditionals® is trademarked too. And so is Traditional Herbals®. Aren’t you outraged about these trademarks and the trademarking of ALL of Traditional Herbals®?! What kind of greedy corporate monster would do such a thing? Shouldn’t we we be working to Free Traditional Herbals and Women’s Liberty from trademark restriction?

    Perhaps your lack of outrage is because you already know – Traditional Medicinals® has been trademarked as a brand name since Rosemary Gladstar started the company in the early 1970’s and they own the trademark for their name and ALL of the trademarks I just mentioned, and many more- https://trademarks.justia.com/owners/traditional-medicinals-inc-282016/index.html http://www.traditionalmedicinals.com/our-story/

    Can you please explain to me how an herbalist who owns/founded several large corporations can start a group called Tradition Not Trademark to fight against trademarking (one) traditional term when she herself started and still stands behind the corporation that literally trademarked Tradition decades ago? Traditional Medicinals® owns dozens of trademarks and they have done so for decades and as far as I can tell their trademarks/brand names have had no negative effect on traditional herbalisim for the past 40 years. No slippery slope, no corporatization of all herbal medicine, not one of the claims you’ve made about Fire Cider® applies to these older, far more generic sounding trademarks. So, what is going on? When I apply anything you have said about Fire Cider® to Rosemary’s trademarks and her recent actions, things just don’t line up.

    Does Rosemary/one corporation really have the right to own all of Traditional Medicinals®? Are all people who trademark tradition greedy corporate jerks? Can no one make Traditonal Herbal® recipes anymore? Can no one sell their traditional medicinals in stores?? How are herb classes even happening? Is getting pregnant or having PMS a way to fight back against corporate ownership of our herbal traditions and other generic terms? Seriously, I am asking you because these are all things I have read about the Fire Cider® trademark on your website.

    When I read things you’ve published and I replace Fire Cider® with Traditional Medicinals® or Pregnancy®, or any one of the trademarks Rosemary/her company continues to befifit $$$$ from owning it doesn’t make any sense – see my examples below. Can you please explain what your Tradition Not Trademark movement is really all about?

    A Concerned Herbalist,

    Pars

  15. Try this, go to the freefirecider website or the tradition not trademark Facebook page and replace Fire Cider® with ANY one of Rosemary’s/Traditional Medicinals® trademarks – Pregnancy® Women’s Liberty® PMS® and you’ll see that NOTHING they are saying is actually true – just a bunch of trumped up ‘information’ designed to elicit anger and fear so that you’ll join the cause and maybe even donate. I feel so bad for anyone swindled out of money by the people who are supposed to be leaders in our community.

    Only the name of the trademark has been changed in this letter Rosemary Gladstar wrote and published about Fire Cider®:

    “Dear Friends, I just found out about this situation a few days ago and, of course, was surprised and extremely disappointed that someone would think they had the right to trademark a name that’s been in public use for decades. I had written to myself directly, hoping to be able to persuade myself that this wasn’t my name to trademark as I didn’t want it to go public without giving myself the opportunity to rescind my trademark on Traditional Medicinals TM. Unfortunately, I seem pretty set in my ‘right’ to own the name Traditional Medicinals. In the meantime I’ve taught hundreds if not thousands of people to make traditional medicinals, who have then taught others… Traditional Medicinals is clearly a ‘peoples medicine’ and isn’t to be ‘owned’. Of course, as with most herbal products, its based on old formulas, so it’s even pretentious for me to say ‘I made it up’. My grandmother used herbs, vinegar and honey and she probably learned from her grandmother. We all learn from one another…..

    My guess is that I learned how to make traditional medicinals from someone who read the directions in a book or from classes, or, perhaps, one of my students. They thought it was great, which it is, and decided to make traditional medicinals for others, as so many others have done, and have been doing for centuries. That’s the beauty of herbs, learning and passing the information on. Like so many others, I, too, decided to make it and sell it. All great, but then to lay claim to something that’s clearly not mine to lay claim, is wrong. And to then tell others they can’t use the name Traditional Medicinals anymore!! What am I suppose to do, remove it from all of my literature, copyrighted books, class handouts and correspondence course?!

    Personally, I don’t think that a good response is necessarily anger, but rather a clear message that this isn’t to be tolerated in the herbal community. That we as a community are here to teach, educate, heal, and share information, recipes, and ideas. Furthermore, with something like Traditional Medicinals that’s been in use for so long, and a product whose name is already well known and circulated in the world, I nor anyone else has the right or privilege to take ownership of it. I can certainly make Traditional Medicinal products and even call it Traditional Medicinals, but if I want to trademark it, I needs to make up my own name, and, ideally, a product that’s uniquely my own. If we allow Traditional Medicinals to be trademarked, then it sets a precedent. Next we’ll see Rosemary’s Famous Face cream copy righted. Its one thing when you make a totally unique product and give it a name that’s not been used before. But this clearly isn’t the case in this situation. I may have brought the trademark and think I own the formulas for all Traditional Medicinals and the name, but I am doing it at a great cost to myself, and my company.

    I spend hardly any time on the internet or Facebook so am behind the times in what information is being passed along in ‘cyber space’. But please do feel free to post this response. What I would suggest is for people to actively respond to me with a kind but clear and straightforward that this isn’t going to be tolerated. I needs to rename my brand. Traditional Medicinals was around long before I ever starting making and using it and that unless I rescind on the trademark, me and my friends will spread the word like wildfire. I may end up owning the name but I won’t have a very popular or successful business. We also needed to cc Etsy on all correspondence, as they too, need to understand the situation.

    Thank you again for contacting me.
    With you in herbal ways,
    Rosemary Gladstar
    Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center
    PO Box 420 East Barre, VT 05649
    (802)479-9825”

  16. Hello, I got a reply to my first email (posted above) from Rosemary Gladstar and one from Mary Blue. Here’s what I was told, along with my own fact finding research. If anyone would like me to forward the emails I received, just ask.

    When I read the part of Mary Blue’s email about to me ‘feeling comfortable sharing your identity’ it struck me as odd – and then I looked closely at the reply and the way the email is formatted and it appears to be a stock reply that was cut n pasted or forwarded to me. Do they have a lot of people not wanting to identify themselves, who are questioning what their group is all about? I have certainly talked to people who disagree with what Tradition not trademark is doing and want to remain anonymous because they don’t want their business attacked and boycotted like happened to the Shire company. I’ve seen people from the community turn viciously on other herbalists who don’t just believe everything coming from Tradition not Trademark or Free fire cider. This was my intro to the herbal community – watching a Learning Herbs TM webinar all about Rosemary’s Remedies TM talking about how terrible this one company is for trademarking a name. Why are people in this community attacking each other and trying to destroy other people’s businesses over a trademark when everyone has one and even Rosemary thinks that all businesses need trademarks?

    “I didn’t own the company (Traditional Medicinals) when the names were trademarked. I founded the company in 1972 and formulated the original blends…..But I am proud to see that’s its grown into the company it has because in spite of the trademarks (which every mid size and up and even several small herbal business’s do ) has maintained an incredible ethics in the business world. They treat and pay their employees well and several employees who I knew in the 70’s still work for the company, all of the packaging is recycled, they use only solar and they support endless educational ventures, women’s corporates worldwide, etc etc. ” Rosemary Gladstar

    So, “EVERY mid size and up and even several small herbal business” have trademarks? But this movement called Tradition NOT Trademark?? This is a confusing explanation. It seems to me like Rosemary and Traditional Medicinals have a lot in common with the Shire Company – you all seem invested in sustainability, provide what look like top quality organic herbal medicine to people all over, have trademarks to protect your business endeavors, say you treat and pay employees well and seem generally awesome! Why aren’t you all working together? It seems like you could get a lot more positive things done together, than fighting over a trademark that’s already 4 or 5 years old.

    “Sadly, there’s not much that an be done ~ at least that I know of ~ to reclaim names that were trademarked 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. ” Rosemary Gladstar

    So why are you fighting over an existing trademark that was already 2 years old before you even found out about and is now, what 4, 5 years old?? Does this make sense to anyone?

    “Rosemary doesn’t own Traditional Medicinals, and had nothing to do with any of those trademarks.” from Mary Blue

    Right, but she also hasn’t spoken out about any of the trademarks or the litigation over those trademarks for the past 40 years, and the 4 free fire cider fighters can be seen happily gifting the trademarked tea to their trademark lawyers on FB and Rosemary the entire focus of “Our Story” on the Traditional Medicinal® website, as the herbalist behind the company and all their street cred. She knows all those generic recipe name trademarks exist and clearly still supports the business she founded. In the very least she and free fire cider have never spoken out about any of these trademarks. This seems like a double standard. Tradition not trademark seems to only apply to fire cider.

    “And, to be clear, we are not against trademarks. We are against generic herbal terms being trademarked. We are outraged about all of these generic herbal trademarks.” Mary Blue. Rosemary has said the same.

    I went to the USTPO website and they clearly state recipes can not be trademarked. The above is like saying I’m not against skydiving but I am against skydiving underwater. Not possible, but when respected herbal teachers tell people, who know nothing about trademarking, that trademarking a recipe is the only bad trademark there is, they believe it. And if this group is so “outraged about all of these generic herbal trademarks – MB”, then why are they all defending Traditional Medicinals® trademarked generic recipe names for Pregnancy tea and PMS tea and Traditional Herbals® and even the word Traditionals®? And those are just a few examples of hundreds of herb businesses with trademarked names?! How can they say one thing about one trademark and something else about every other trademark that exists??

  17. part two ….
    “The other big thing to consider is that Traditional Medicinals is NOT harrassing or suing small herbalists for selling products with similiar names at farmers markets, AND, it would be impossible to cancel their 30 year old trademarks. So, launching a campaign against them wouldn’t make sense.” Mary Blue

    Ok, this seemed hard to believe, a 40 year old company has never enforced it’s trademarks?! I spent about 20 minutes looking around on the USTPO public website – you can look up the litigation history of any trademark. Looks like Traditional Medicinals enforced it’s rights to Smooth Move® six times in six different cases and 6 different defendant groups, since 2008 – and that’s just one of dozens of their trademarks.
    Click the link, then click on “proceedings” in blue at the end of the list:
    http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=78031266&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch SmothMove®
    http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=78634293&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch Tummy Comfort®
    http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=78401232&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch Throat Coat®
    http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=78202739&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch Golden Green Tea®
    http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=77667871&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch SmoothLax®

    Also, I didn’t find anything about the fire cider 3 lawsuit having to do with ‘suing over selling at farmer’s markets’
    http://www.lexislegalnews.com/articles/2495/federal-judge-denies-stay-in-declaratory-judgment-trademark-case

    ” I never even knew much about trademarks until the fire cider issue came up, and quite honestly that didn’t even interest me initially but because it was creating a fire storm in the herbal world, I did jump in and become involved ~ because I am concerned about the bigger issues it brought up, not so much about ‘saving Fire Cider’ but trying to protect what traditional names we can in the future. ” Rosemary Gladstar

    Protecting names that aren’t protected, ok, great! Why go after one of thousands of existing trademarks when you have already said nothing can be done about those? If this isn’t about fire cider then why is fire cider and the Shire company the sole focus of your entire 3 year campaign?

    “Another aside that may or may not be important but I’ve never trademarked anything nor do I own a trademark.” Rosemary Gladstar

    Except that Rosemary IS using Rosemary’s RemediesTM (the banner at the bottom clearly has a TM after the name http://mountainroseblog.com/rosemarys-remedies-open/ ) as a trademark so it’s kind of odd that she said that she isn’t. I saw that name and TM were used in the Learning Herbs webinar, which was my intro to online herb classes. Rosemary is using the TM and using the name as a trademark. Why do that if you really are against trademarking recipes? Because Rosemary is literally using it protect all of her remedy recipes, by branding them that way.

    Why are leaders in this community going after a single business with such venom? Why are opinions and straight up false information being spread around as fact by these teachers? Why isn’t anyone outraged that teachers and leaders are lying to them and asking for donations on top of it all? Why is Traditional Medicinals is a great company but Shire City Herbals worse than Monsanto? Why is so much time, money and energy being wasted trying to tank a single small business in the name of tradition herbalisim? This doesn’t make any sense to me. And this really doesn’t make me want to be a part of this community that seems to take delight in othering and tearing down anyone who dares to do things differently.

    Pars
    parsleypatchouli@gmail.com

  18. Kelly Thomas on said:

    After carefully reading the resources you have provided @firecidershirecity, I have determined a few things. One, I empathize with you on the concern that a Kraft or Proctor & Gamble could have trademarked ‘fire cider’; for that, I am grateful they did not. Secondly, I do honestly believe you started off in good intentions. However, small scale sellers on Etsy or personal websites should NOT be getting threatened by you. Why THE HELL are you going after the small time herbalists? Honestly, I have no problem with you having trademarked it if indeed it is true you wanted to protect if from the big guys…. BUT, and a HUGE BUT there, you are going after the little companies. Selling on Etsy doesn’t make you “big”; it is how smaller companies stay afloat and support their families doing something they love instead of staying in some corporate or minimum wage job they hate. All your PR, all your claims, all your ifs, ands, or buts are full of it, and I don’t mean good herbal medicine. You are not protecting fire cider from corporations, you are protecting YOU: your money, your market, your profits. In closing, I am not against you trade-marking ‘fire cider’ for its protection. I am against you going after innocent herbalists trying to sell their wares to make the lives of their families, and others’, better. If you are concerned that the sold ‘fire cider’ of other true herbalists will convolute the view on your own product, do not fear. You have just done that yourselves. I wish the three of you luck on this. Hopefully you will do the right thing and use your trademark for the right integrity of herbalism instead of what is right for you!

  19. Thanks Kelly, I hear your concern is for small businesses and I want to assure you that we are not ‘going after small businesses on Etsy’ although I can see why you have gotten tat impression. Recently there has been some concern over Shire City Herbals interactions with sellers on Etsy. Etsy is a terrific service that allows small crafters to quickly and easily sell to a national market. In exchange for using this service, Etsy asks that users sign a terms of use agreement which includes a section on intellectual property rights. Here is a great blog post by the folks at Etsy, explaining how copyrights and trademarks work on Etsy.
    https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/article/intellectual-property-infringement/22398703823

    Shire City Herbals has held a registered trademark on the name FIRE CIDER for tonics since 2012. Over the past four years, we have periodically had to ask Etsy sellers to respect this brand name. Here is an example of a recent letter. We have found that engaging in friendly dialog is a much better option than involving Etsy Legal and potentially damaging a seller’s reputation.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x_drVaIruTMqWQprq8UcZx7xBjmYzA8BbIuZbjMYTDQ/edit

    If any trademark or copyright holder files a complaint with Etsy, Etsy will take down the offending page. It is ultimately Etsy that is legally liable for what is listed by its sellers. Typically Etsy will take down the offending listing, and in extreme instances, Etsy may take down an entire store listing. Having been in the shoes of the people selling on Etsy, we understand how terrible this can be, and we want to avoid having a negative impact on Etsy business. This is why we are reaching out to people directly, rather than notifying Etsy as a first resort.

    Trademarks only apply to a product’s name, and have nothing to do with the product itself or any recipe. Everyone is and always will be free to sell their products under their own trademark or to share, teach, and use recipes under any name, in books, blogs, etc…

    Thanks for reading, if you would like to have a personal conversation with us, please email Amy at Legalquestions@FireCider.com.

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