Jules Dervaes

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Jules Dervaes (born 1947) is an urban farmer and a proponent of the urban homesteading movement. Dervaes and his three adult children operate an urban market garden in Pasadena, California as well as other websites and online stores related to self-sufficiency and "adapting in place."

Self-sufficient in the city[edit]

Dervaes has a one-fifth acre lot in Pasadena, California,[1] on which he and his family raise three tons of food per year. This provides 75 percent of their annual food needs,[2] 99 percent of their produce and helps them sustain an organic produce business. They also raise ducks, chickens,[3] goats, bees, compost worms and are running an aquaponics fish experiment.

Dervaes started experimenting with self-sufficiency while he lived in New Zealand and later in Florida, then decided to see how efficient he could make an urban homestead in Pasadena, California, USA. According to Natural Home magazine, "The Dervaeses' operation is about 60 to 150 times as efficient as their industrial competitors, without relying on chemical fertilizers and pesticides."[2]

In addition to growing a significant amount of food, the Derveas family attempts to live off-grid as far as possible and have invested significant amounts of money to experiment with other ways of attaining self-sufficiency. They have 12 solar panels on the roof of the house, a biodiesel filling station in the garage, and a solar oven in the backyard;[4] they use a wastewater reclamation system, a dual-flush toilet, a composting toilet, and a number of hand-cranked kitchen appliances (to reduce power consumption). They also use solar drying, and have a cob oven.

Dervaes owns several websites, including julesdervaes.com, pathtofreedom.com, urbanhomestead.org, urbanhomesteading.com, freedomgardens.org, peddlrswagon.com, backyardchickens.org, barnyardsandbackyards.org, thehiddenyears.org, and dervaesinstitute.org.

pathtofreedom.com now redirects to urbanhomestead.org; it was originally about Elian Gonzales.[5]

As of 2008, Path to Freedom got five million hits per month from over 125 different countries.[4]

The Dervaes family was featured on National Geographic Channel's Doomsday Preppers in 2012 and briefly appeared in a trailer for the show.[6]

Religious activities[edit]

In 2008, Dervaes operated websites promoting prophecies of the "end times" and criticizing the Worldwide Church of God's (WCG) doctrinal changes from 1995. The site's mission was "TO SHOW that repeated WARNINGS to God’s Church, beginning in 1986 after Herbert W. Armstrong’s death, were ignored, by documenting the outright rejection of the messages; TO WARN God’s people that the unique challenge of the Last Era is continuing to be met with the wrong solutions or none at all; TO ANNOUNCE the true and only way we can be prepared for the establishment of the Kingdom of God and Christ’s Second Coming."[7]

In 2011, Dervaes took the websites down but an archived version can be found here at the Wayback Machine (archived March 10, 2008).

The family has integrated Seventh-day Sabbath observance into its business practices, per WCG's teachings.[8]

The Dervaes Institute is registered as a tax exempt 508(c)(1)(a) organization,[9] a status which is limited to "churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches"[10]

Trademark controversy[edit]

In 2007, the Dervaes Institute applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the phrase "urban homesteading" as a service mark.[11] In 2008, the institute followed up with a second service mark application, for the phrase "urban homestead".[12] "Urban homesteading" was registered, but only on the Supplemental Register, after initially being denied for not being sufficiently distinctive, on June 2, 2009.[11] "Urban homestead" was registered on the Principal Register on October 5, 2010.[12]

In 2011 the Dervaes Institute began sending notifications to maintainers of websites who used these terms that these terms were now under their trademark and that they were not to be used without crediting the Dervaes family. The Dervaes Institute asserts that it's protecting a legitimate business interest, that their usage of the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading" are new usages and distinctive, and that its trademark of the term "urban homesteading" prevents other corporations from trademarking it. However, the same usage is documented back to at least 1976 in Mother Earth News.[13]

This has caused an uproar within the urban homesteading community and created a backlash against the Dervaes family. An activist group called "Take Back Urban Home-steading(s)," was started on Facebook on 16 February 2011.[14]

On 21 February 2011, Corynne McSherry, Intellectual Property Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (which is representing Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, Los Angeles-based authors of The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City, and publisher Process Media), sent a response to the Dervaes Institute and published the letter on the Electronic Frontier Foundation website.[15]

On 4 April 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a petition to cancel the trademark on "urban homestead".[16]

On 7 April 2011, Denver Urban Homesteading filed a petition to cancel the trademark on "urban homesteading".[17]

Over the course of 2011, the Facebook group has evolved into a general urban homesteading resource.

On 5 November 2015: URBAN HOMESTEADING” TRADEMARK CANCELLED BY FEDERAL COURT Denver, Colorado, November 5, 2015 Today in a pre-trial ruling a federal court in California cancelled the trademark for “urban homesteading” which its owner had used to disable a number of Facebook pages in 2011 by claiming infringement. This ended a nearly five-year legal struggle by a small farmers’ market in Denver, Colorado named Denver Urban Homesteading to cancel the trademark which began when the farmers lost their Facebook page and contacts with customers in February 2011.

The trademark was owned by the Dervaes Institute of Pasadena, CA, self-described in California incorporation papers as a “religious society” and operated by Jules Dervaes and members of his family. After Facebook pages around the country disappeared on February 14, 2011, the urban homesteading community united in protest against the Dervaes Institute, starting two new Facebook pages and a petition on change.org demanding cancellation of the trademark. Court filings show that the Dervaes Institute had issued cease and desist letters to book authors, book publishers, farmers’ markets and even a public library.

In April 2011 Denver Urban Homesteading began legal action at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark. According to owner James Bertini, the USPTO refused to consider the merits, even though it was obligated to hold a single hearing and cancel the trademark quickly because it was listed on the “supplemental register” rather than on the more common “principal register.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) fared no better. Bertini said that they commenced legal action at the USPTO to cancel the Dervaes Institute’s trademark for “urban homestead,” as well as for “urban homesteading” but couldn’t get that agency to decide their case, either.

Then, in 2013 the farmers’ market sued to cancel the trademark in Colorado federal court, but after another delay - this time of one year - the judge refused to consider the case for jurisdictional reasons. So in December 2014 Denver Urban Homesteading sued in California where a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California canceled the trademark because it is generic. Generic words and phrases cannot be registered as trademarks. The case number is 2:14−cv−09216.

Denver Urban Homesteading was unable to afford a trademark lawyer so owner James Bertini, a retired general practice attorney represented the market himself. He was motivated to cancel the trademark not only to get back the farmers’ Facebook page but also as a matter of public interest since other Facebook pages had been disabled. Bertini said that he prevailed over five law firms and nearly a dozen intellectual property litigation attorneys that participated on behalf of the Dervaes Institute in those legal battles. “No small business should have to go through five years of litigation to cancel a trademark that shouldn’t exist,” Bertini said. “A small business cannot afford this burden.” Indeed, according to Bertini, his didn’t, and the farmers’ market was closed this year due to the extensive time required for litigation and travel to California for court-required meetings.

Bertini said that his research shows that this is the first time a trademark on the supplemental register was cancelled in a pre-trial order. However, he still has to go to trial in December to obtain damages. He needs to find an attorney licensed in California who can be associated with him in order to complete the case.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Dervaes, Jules (February–March 2009). "An Amazing and Prolific Urban Homestead". Mother Earth News (Ogden Publications). Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  2. ^ a b Clark, Justin (2006-05-01). "Pasadena Paradise: An Organic, Urban Vegetable Garden". Natural Home Magazine (Ogden Publications). Retrieved 2015-09-11. 
  3. ^ Murphy, Jennifer (2007-05-25). "LA Chickens". World Changing LA. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  4. ^ a b Caires, April (2004-02-21). "Really green living". Pasadena Weekly (Southland Publishing). Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  5. ^ Let Elian Gonzales Go Home by Jules Dervaes
  6. ^ "Doomsday Preppers". YouTube. National Geographic. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Hidden Years: About" at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2011-02-17
  8. ^ Dervaes, Jules. "the sabbath economy". Urban Homestead Supply. Urban Homesteaders. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  9. ^ Dervaes, Jules. "A Grassroots Creation Care Organization". Urban Homestead. Urban Homestead. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "26 USC § 508". Legal Information Institute. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  11. ^ a b U.S. trademark registration application serial no. 77/326,565, filed November 15, 2007, registered June 2, 2009 (supplemental). Accessed April 2, 2014.
  12. ^ a b U.S. trademark registration application serial no. 77/574,809, filed September 23, 2008, registered October 5, 2010. Accessed April 2, 2014.
  13. ^ A Victorian mansion in Berkeley California is converted into an urban homestead.
  14. ^ Take Back Urban Homesteading, an activist group on Facebook
  15. ^ 21 Feb 2011 EFF Letter to Dervaes Institute
  16. ^ Petition to cancel 'Urban Homestead' trademarks
  17. ^ Petition to Cancel 'Urban Homesteading' trademarks