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National Grange is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1867 to advocate for rural America and agriculture. While the full name of the organization is the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, its marketing materials commonly refer to it as the Grange. Even though it’s a “fraternal organization of ‘Patrons of Husbandry,'” which might sound just a little misogynistic to some, women have been equal members in the Grange since its inception.
I’m not sure what the Grange’s Mission is, but it does have a Declaration of Purposes, which includes the motto, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
It also sets forth specific objectives relative to business relations, education, non-partisanship and outside cooperation. Relative to the later, it states:[framed_box]
Our Fraternity, being agriculturally based, family oriented and dedicated to the pure principles of equality under Constitutional Law, we appeal to all good citizens for mutual cooperation and assistance toward reform that we may remove from our midst the last vestige of inequity and corruption. We believe that harmony, equitable compromise and earnest cooperation are essential to future success.[/framed_box]
The National Grange also has 13 LIVE USPTO trademark records, 12 of which incorporate the word GRANGE, including a registration for THE OLD GRANGE RESTAURANT for restaurant services, and another for GRANGE for goods and services including:[framed_box]
credit cards, posters, and publications; namely, newsletters, brochures, and pamphlets about family life in farm, rural and suburban communities . . .
association and charitable services; namely, advancing the quality of family life in farm, rural and suburban communities . . .[/framed_box]
Even though the word grange is defined by Merriam-Webster as a granary, barn, or farm, especially a farmhouse with outbuildings, National Grange has used this word as a brand in connection with family farms for 144 years. It’s registrations for its logo, NATIONAL GRANGE and GRANGE marks are incontestable making it nearly impossible for the rights evidenced by these registrations to be challenged. There was even a U.S. postage stamp made to celebrate the National Grange’s centennial:
The Brooklyn Grange is a commercial organic farm located on New York City rooftops, which grows vegetables in the city and sells them to local people and businesses. Hooray! Brooklyn Grange’s website states, “Brooklyn Grange is a small business now, but we plan to expand so that we can build more farms on roofs throughout New York and beyond.” How awesome. Only folks, you’re going to have to do that under another name, one that is not likely to make people think you are associated or affiliated with, or endorsed by the National Grange organization.
The Grange is not messing around when it comes to protecting its brand. It has already taken the trouble to sue the Brooklyn Grange in federal court for trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution. It went so far as to file for a preliminary injunction — asking the court to order Brooklyn Grange to stop using the BROOKLYN GRANGE mark while the lawsuit is pending. The court ordered the Brooklyn Grange to show cause why it should not grant the Grange’s motion, and the folks in Brooklyn have only ten more days (until November 23, 2011) to do so. Though the Brooklyn Grange’s business model seems wonderful, sadly, I think the BROOKLYN GRANGE mark is toast. Looking on the bright side, as long as it’s organic whole wheat, it should taste good with their organic veggies.
Oh, and here’s a little unsolicited advice for the folks in Brooklyn to help them avoid traveling down this bumpy road again: when searching for your new brand avoid using the term urban homesteading as well. Though you may think it’s a generic term for urban farming, the Dervaes Institute thinks otherwise, as I wrote about here.
A preliminary trademark search conducted by competent counsel would have revealed the GRANGE family of marks. This is why we trademark lawyers urge our clients to conduct searches before adopting new marks. It’s also often less expensive than having to re-brand and it’s certainly less expensive than defending a trademark infringement lawsuit.