Rarely do such events occur in our small community that raise a nary eyebrow. On July 24, 2014 that all changed and a tornado swept through the bushcraft community, of such epic proportions, that it went international and people were banned from an online community because of it.
There has been so much clutter with messages going back and forth on forums and blogs, often hundreds of replies long, that it can get confusing just to follow. So I will do my best to pull out keypoints, but I encourage everyone to read this for starters. http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2014/07/bushcraft-usa-trademarks-word-bushcraft.html
In 2012, BushcraftUSA submitted for trademark (they received a service mark instead) the word “Bushcraft”, not BushcraftUSA, or Bushcraft outfitters, just plain ole BUSHCRAFT. That means THEY LEGALLY OWN the word, but to what end?
Since they received a Service Mark, according to the USPTO it is defined as :
A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.
In this case, and according to the USPTO, as it was filed for the word Bushcraft.
IC 038. US 100 101 104. G & S: Providing an on-line forum for bushcraft; Providing on-line forums for transmission of messages among computer users concerning bushcraft. FIRST USE: 20080802. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20090401
At once, one can see how this stirred the hornets nest as there are many online communities with the word bushcraft in their title, including those on facebook and elsewhere, but it was the motives behind it that really stirred the pot.
According to Guy Wood, one of the owners of BushcraftUSA (BCUSA), there had been a few disgruntled members on BCUSA who felt they were being singled out and felt there was some sort of conspiracy going on in relation to a product(s) they were attempting to sell on the BCUSA website. These members subsequently went out and started their own forum, with, and this is according to Guy Wood, the intent to bring down BCUSA, through recruiting members and other ways. This caused him to go into protection mode and protect his business by trademarking the word “Bushcraft”, before the others had a chance to do it, thus potentially bringing down BCUSA.
Though there was vagueness in who and what other forum Guy was speaking of, it was soon found out it was “Blades and Bushcraft“.
One of the common recurring themes, including by Guy as well, is “this is old news, by two years old. Why is this coming to light now? Apparently, someone had the intent to trademark the name as well, which is how they stumbled upon the fact that it had already been done”
Here is Red from Blade forums response to that
We found out last October about all of this. We did not try to trademark the word, nor would we ever. We made free public use of our name AND logo available to all our forum members for free. This goes against everything we believe in, and the whole reason we started our forum: To have a place to speak freely. It just so happens that we were tipped off (by a BIG name over there that I happen to still be friends with) what they were planning, and PW decided to let OUR members know that we were facing this ridiculous problem. The internet took over from there. And from the looks of it, there aren’t very many people too happy about it. Besides, this whole thing originated OVER THERE, not on our forum. If I have been correctly informed.
It appears that during one Georgia meet up, Guy Woods apparently had a bit much to drink and began smearing Blades and Bushcraft. According to the organizer of the event, Chuck Winchester, this is what was said
It was my meet back in Oct of last year in South Ga that Guy stated that he owned the word bushcraft and that everyone that uses that term would have to stop using the term for business purposes. Guy was very specific and vocal about the forum Blades and Bushcraft, that they would have to change their name or close their site down. He was very angry and spoke badly of these folks.
Another anonymous person commented with this
It’s probably worth mentioning that this is NOT new news, in fact old news. The true reasoning behind it, however, is another story entirely. Guy Wood made the unfortunate mistake of making his intentions known at a Georgia meet last year. He was saying that he did it so he could shut that other forum down. Then proceeded to make fun of them for most of the night, calling them “Bed&Breakfast”. Still don’t think there is no harm in this?
Though some feel Guy has already sent out cease and desist letters in regards to the use of the word bushcraft, I can not find any folks this has happened to, though it appears amongst the side chatter, and this is public, Texas Bushcraft was one such or intended recipient.
Guy’s response to these accusations are as such
BCUSA has never contacted an attorney, sent a letter, demanding a fee, etc. All of that information put forth is a lie. I am not sure what else can be said. You have all be duped by Ross.
I received a call this morning that now my vendors are being brought into this, with lies sent to them as well. We were also accused of gay-bashing Ross, which we certainly didn’t do. I have not posted anything anonymously on any of this and never will.
As for those that are threatening, think about the premise you are threatening under. While we have had words with B&B and yes, I was upset at the time. That was almost a year ago and nothing has been done. No attorney has been contacted or anything else, at this time.
As for Woodsmoke, we collected the money and sent it to them through our store. We advertised it on BCUSA for free. We also got stuck with a tax bill for that money collected. Do you think a little acknowledgement would have been in order if you had done that?
I would like to point out that Guy did in fact ask Woodtrekker (Ross) for his email address, so that Guy’s attorney could get in touch with him. Woodtrekker grabbed a screenshot of it and put it on public display for a short while before he took it down. I SAW IT, as did many others. That said, it seems it had more to do with the fact woodtrekker wrote the article. None the less, the intent was there by Guy.
As more info rolled in, it appears there was deceit during the application process itself. Apparently, one is asked somewhere in the application process, if to the best of their knowledge the intended mark (in this case word) is being used by anyone else in this type of business (in this case message and electronic communications of bushcraft). It appears BCUSA replied NO, because they were granted the service mark anyway, regardless of the myriad discussion forums, including those on facebook and elsewhere.
So, will this hold up? My answer is NO, based on this.
There was deceit during the application process, but more importantly, if a trademark becomes generic in use, it loses it’s protected rights, such as it occurred with the words — Aspirin, escalator, Pilates, Cellophane, Thermos, etc. In fact, Xerox had to put forth a huge marketing campaign in order to get people to use the word photocopying, instead of xerox, for fear of losing the trademark to generic use. BUSHCRAFT has been a generic use word for many many years, far beyond those of 2012.
So there it is in a nutshell. I am sure more will surface, but that is it for now. And that is how the word Bushcraft rocked our world.