Have you heard of fire cider? This historic, healthy drink has been shared by herbalists for generations and is said to help cure colds, flus, digestive issues, sinus infections, chronic nausea and more.
Made of healing ingredients like apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, cayenne and raw honey, Herbal Roots Zine calls fire cider "the number one herbal remedy that was sitting on our grandmothers’ kitchen shelves all around the world."
Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar first coined the name fire cider in the 1970's and she has been teaching people how to make fire cider in books, videos and lectures ever since.
Despite the fact that Ms. Gladstar invented the name and thousands of herbalists already sell products labeled "fire cider," three individuals recently trademarked the name for their company product and are working to ban all other sales of products using the name.
Herbalists have united to keep the name in public use. The recently created Fire Cider Facebook page (update: Shire City Herbals kept up their legal bullying and got the page removed from Facebook) explains:
Fire Cider is a term invented by Rosemary Gladstar over 35 years ago, and has been shared by her freely since then to tens of thousands of people. She has it in her published books from the 90‘s and pamphlets from the 1970’s. This term is as common as pizza or tea in the herb world. The manufacturers have trademarked this term, and have started taking legal action against herbal companies that sell Fire Cider.
The term "Fire Cider" is Rosemary Gladstar's intellectual property, which can be proven in court. She has published copyrighted books coining the term "fire cider" from the 90's, and has freely shared this term since the 1970's. Ms. Gladstar has never tried to prevent the use of the term on fire cider products made by herbalists around the world, and has always encouraged others to make, share and sell fire cider with any name they wish (including hers).
...everyone can make it, reformulate, rename it, and sell it as they please. But to trade mark it and not allows others to make and sell is purely wrong.
Shire City Herbals, the company that has now trademarked the name Fire Cider, acknowledged in a letter that the name was already used by herbalists before they trademarked it. They wrote:
Fire Cider” is indeed a term from the world of folk medicine that predates our usage of it. What we have done is create what they call 'secondary meaning' in the trademark world. This means that to the general public, Fire Cider means brown bottle with a pirate on it that is made by Shire City Herbals.
Despite the fact that they acknowledge that herbalists have been using the name for decades, they have notified retail sellers like Etsy that all other products sold as "fire cider" are now against the law and must be removed from the site.
The company justifies their bullying of all other producers of fire cider by further saying:
Once a company establishes a trademark, they have to police the marketplace and make every effort to protect their trademark. Failure to exercise reasonable diligence in enforcing a trademark constitutes “trademark abandonment”.
Here's some places to find excellent recipes for fire cider:
- You can find Rosemary Gladstar's recipe on page 74 of her book, Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs. She also shares it freely on you-tube.
- Rosemary's company, Sage Mountain Herbs, offers her fire cider recipe and other healing recipes here.
- Herbal Roots Zine offers complete instructions on how to make fire cider with kids with an informative free printable label and card and why it's so healthy, along with a free 14-page fire cider e-book.
- Mountain Rose Herbs offers their fire cider recipe here.
- Kiva Rose developed a variation for sensitive stomachs without cayenne peppers and with additions of herbs like hawthorn and basil.
Ms. Gladstar herself responded to the situation with a note here. She said in part:
I was so disappointed when I heard about this. I received a note just a few days ago informing me that a man has trademarked this product. I found this rather unbelievable ~ and extremely disappointing ~ since I first made and named this recipe over 35 years and have taught thousands of people to make it. It was a recipe based on many old formulas and has been popular for years (long before my time, I'm sure). So many people make and sell it, as it was given freely to everyone, to be used, to keep healthy with, and to sell. But the audacity of someone to lay claim to the name and then trademark so others can't use it, is hugely disappointing to me.
Shire City Herbals has been deluged with angry comments on their Facebook page and website. They recently posted that they are considering how to proceed and asked for two weeks (until February 10th) to decide. Time will tell whether this is a stalling tactic or if the company is sincere in working to do the right thing.
The bottom line is this:
Rosemary Gladstar created the name fire cider and has given it to the herbal world for decades. To trademark it now and try to profit off of her wisdom and generosity and our herbal common knowledge is quite simply playing dirty pool. It may or may not be legal. But it's definitely wrong.
Please sign the petition and spread the word about this issue. This is also an excellent time to whip up your first batch of fire cider and work on developing your own personal recipe. Hopefully, you can call it whatever you like.
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