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Fighting for Fire Cider

'Fire Cider Three' Receive Award for Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Victory to Keep 'Fire Cider' Generic (found on www.truhavn.com)

In 2012, the Pittsfield, Massachusetts-based Shire City Herbals filed for a trademark for the name “Fire Cider” for its own version of the blend. The three herbalists initiated an online campaign to bring the trademark to the attention of herbalists and consumers, and exhorted them to make their own “fire cider” on the basis that the term was traditional and generic, and thus not trademarkable.

In 2014, Shire City sued Blue, Langelier, and Telkes for trademark infringement and trade disparagement following their efforts to cancel the “Fire Cider” trademark and boycott the company. The company initially sued them for $100,000; however, these charges were dismissed before the trial began. At that point, the defendants had a decision to make: Whether or not to pursue their attempt to cancel the trademark or discontinue their efforts and leave it in Shire City’s control.

There was this moment when we all paused to wonder what we should do next,” wrote Gladstar. “It made perfect sense for them to quit while they could: They had a lot at stake to lose and nothing to win except a name they wanted to give back to the herbal community. I can’t recall who spoke first but one of them said, ‘Heck no, I’m not going to quit now. I’m in this to the end.’ And then the other two chimed in, and just like that, they were ready to press forward.”

During the nine trial days in 2019, many members of the herbal community rallied around the Fire Cider Three at the US District Courthouse in Springfield, Massachusetts. Supporters attended the trial and provided food for the defendants; families held picnics on the courthouse lawn; and many herbalists brought samples of their own fire cider to share. Blue, Langelier, and Telkes risked their livelihoods on the outcome of the lawsuit, and the community rallied around them in response. In September 2019, United States District Judge Mark. G. Mastroianni ruled in favor of the defendants and canceled the trademark on fire cider.

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