Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blades and Bushcraft Changes Forum Name Due to Trademark Registration of the Word “Bushcraft”

It appears we have our first casualty of the trademarking of the word buschraft by Buschraft USA LLC. Well, it’s not exactly the first casualty. We all know abotut the rest, but the name change by Blades and Buschraft is the first major casualty of the corporate ownership of the word.

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The owners of Blades and Buschraft have made it clear that they will not reveal what actually happened to lead to the name change, and have only stated that the change was voluntarily made to avoid possible litigation. I know a bit about the back story on this one, but I will respect their wishes and not provide any more information on the subject.

The announcement was made last night. They still have not revealed the new name. As soon as the new domain is released, I will update this post to reflect it.

When it comes to suppression of free speech, it is often assumed, or even outright asserted by people interested in censorship that the only way censorship can occur is through direct action, i.e. suing the party who is being censored. That is not in fact true, and there is a doctrine in free speech jurisprudence which addressed censorship through non direct means. It is called the chilling effect of regulation. The doctrine is that once you pass legislation (or take any other actions) which establish that there can be a negative legal consequence to a specific action, then the mere existence of the regulation causes censorship through fear of said litigation, even if the litigation never occurs. It is a chilling effect on speech.

To give an example more directly related to the current issue, imagine that there is a small custom knife maker. Let’s call him Bob’s Bushcraft Knives Inc. Well, Bob’s Buschraft Knives Inc starts out making knives in his garage. He markets them under the name Bob’s Buschrat Knives Inc. His product is good, and he develops a good reputation. Eventually he manages to produce enough knives to support himself. One day however, he is contacted by another corporation. Let’s call them American Knives LLC. American Knives LLC tells Bob’s Bushcraft Knives Inc that they own a trademark on the word “knives”, and that if he wishes to continue to use the word in his business name, he has to pay them 10% royalties. Bob’s Bushcrat Knives Inc can not afford to make such payment, so he closes down, and has to re-open with a new name. Now, this is an example of direct action by the trademark owner.

However consider the following. imagine that Bob started making knives under the name Bob’s Bushcraft Knives Inc, but a month into operations, he discovered that American Knives LLC owns a trademark for the word “knives”. Do you think he will continue to use that name? After all, American Knives LLC has not sued him yet. Would he wait until they sue him a month from now, or a year, or five years? Of course he wouldn’t. He is not going to wait until the above example comes to pass. He will take preventative measures and simply abandon the name upfront and start his business under a different name. He can not afford to invest the time and effort to develop his reputation under a name which he is allowed to use just by the good graces on another corporation; a name that the other corporation can ask him to stop using at any time. That is the chilling effect of trademark ownership of a word.

Bob knows that trademarking the word “knives” is an atrocious abuse of the legal system and that it will never stand up in court, but he does not have the thousands of dollars it would take to fight a lawsuit from the much larger American Knives LLC. He has to do the only thing he can, and fold.

So, if we assume that Bushcraft USA LLC has never used their trademark of the word bushcraft against anyone, right now all of the other bushcraft forums, blogs and businesses exist just by the good graces of Bushcraft USA LLC. They have the legal right to come after anyone who uses the word bushraft in commerce. Maybe they will never use the trademark against anyone, maybe they will. Maybe it will be month from now, maybe a year from now. Maybe it will be when ownership of the corporation changes, or when the competitor does something they don’t like. If and when it happens however is entirely in the hands of Buschraft USA LLC. Considering that, can another forum afford to spend the time and effort to grow their membership and business under a name which they can use only by the graces of their competitor, and only until such time that the competitor decides it should be otherwise? Well, clearly Blades and Bushcraft decided that is not the smart thing to do. While I believe they would have prevailed in a legal challenge by Bhushcraft USA LLC, I completely understand why they would not want to risk the expense of litigation.

I wish them good luck.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trip Report: Blydenburgh Park Fishing 7/19/14

Well, this little trip report was supposed to go up on the blog last week, but then I was told that someone had patented writing, so I had to hold off until I could make sure. :)

Anyway, last weekend I had some free time, so my friend Rich and I decided to do some bass fishing. We went to Blydenburgh Park to fish a lake called Stump Pond.

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Following Rich’s advise, we were using  a weedless set up utilizing just a #4 hook with a gummy lure. The bass went nuts for it. I literally hooked one on the first cast. And the fish just kept biting.

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It went on like that for several hours until the sun started going down.

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I know, not much of a trip report, but I haven’t done much fishing this year I wanted to try out some different set ups.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bushcraft USA Trademarks the Word “Bushcraft”

Yes folks, you read that correctly. The forum Bushcraft USA has actually trademarked the word bushcraft. Again, I’ll repeat, they have not just trademarked the forum name Bushcraft USA but rather the word bushcraft itself.

SUMMARY:

I’ve inserted this summary into the post to give you the general outline of what we know, what we don’t know, and everything in between. I’m writing the summary because the overall post is getting to be a bit too long. Considering that the BCUSA response thread, in which I or people who agree with me are not allowed to post in over 20 pages, I think I’ve done okay as to keeping it short. :) Anyway, here is the summary:

Things we know for a fact:

  1. Bushcraft USA LLC has trademarked the word bushcraft. The application was submitted July 30, 2012, and was issued November 12, 2013. source: United States Patent and Trademark Office records.
  2. The trademark is a service mark (a trademark with respect to services) for the general use of the word bushcraft. The trademark is not limited to forums or electronic forms of communication or commerce. source: United States Patent and Trademark Office records; see Limitation Statement on the trademark registration.
  3. Bushcraft USA LLC, through its owner, Guy Wood has contacted at least one forum with purposes of getting them to stop using the word bushcraft in their forum name. source: admission by Guy Woods in the thread on Bushcraft USA Forum dated July 24, 2014. The name of the forum that was contacted was also revealed in the thread, but I will not post it here. The thread was locked and moved to the members only section, but as of last night the admission still had not been deleted.
  4. Guy Wood has threatened me with litigation for writing this post exposing the fact that Bushcraft USA LLC has trademarked the word bushcraft. source: an email sent to me by Guy Wood. See screen capture below.  
  5. The information about the trademarking of the word bushcraft was first revealed on the Bushcraft USA Forum on July 23, 2014. The thread was deleted that same day. All Facebook comments about the issue on the Bushcraft USA Facebook page were deleted, and a second thread started on the forum on July 24, 2014 was locked and moved to the “members only” section of the forum. source: admission by Guy Wood in the above locked thread.
  6. On July 24, 2014, after this post was published, Bushcraft USA LLC applied for supplemental trademark for the term Buschraft USA. Bushcraft USA LLC now owns the trademarks for both Bushcraft USA and the actual word bushcraft. source: United States Patent and Trademark Office records.

Things that are disputed:

  1. According to Chuck Winchester, at a Georgia meet last year, organized by Mr. Winchester, Guy Wood spoke about how he was the owner of the word buschraft, an that he plans to go after anyone who uses the word online. Specifically, he threatened to go after the forum Blades and Bushcraft, which he mockingly called Bed&Breackfast. Guy Wood has disputed the allegation by simply calling Chuck Winchester a liar.
  2. Guy Wood has contacted at least one other forum, separate from the one discussed above, and threatened them with litigation if they do not change their name, or if they allow any posts regarding the trademark issue or the threats. I have direct knowledge of these communications, but the forum owner has requested to remain anonymous, so I have put the allegation in the “disputed” section as I can not reveal the source. Guy Wood has denied contacting any other forum besides the one he admitted to.
  3. Bushcraft USA LLC has alleged that they were forced to trademark the word bushcraf back in 2012 because other forums were trying to shut down Bushcraft USA. No evidence of any sort has been provided as to which forums those were, how they were going to shut down Bushcraft USA Forum, or for that matter, how such a thing would be possible. There has also been no explanation provided as to how trademarking the word bushcraft would have prevented such shutting down. If another forum had tried to trademark the word (which evidence from the US Patent and Trademark Office shows did not happen), then the registration could have been stopped with a simple objection to the office. There has also been no coherent story as why Buschraft USA LLC didn’t trademark BuschraftUSA, BCUSA, Buschraft Outfitters, or Bushclass rather than the word bushcraft, if protection was their actual concern.
  4. According to the latest from Bushcraft USA LLC, it has been alleged that their ownership of the word bushcraft is not an issue because they have never enforced it against anyone. Specifically, it has been asserted that there have been no Cease and Desist Letters, and since no one has produced such a letter, Bushcraft USA LLC has not enforced the trademark. This argument seems to be based on a confusion about what a Cease and Desist Letter actually is. Everyone is looking for some legal document that was sent. In reality all that a Cease and Desist Letter is is a writing which tells someone to stop doing something. It is also called a Demand Letter. No specific format is required. It is not disputed that Guy Wood contacted at least one forum in order to “discuss” their use of the word buschraft in their forum name. Since the “discussion” involved telling the forum to stop using the word or pay for the use, technically, that is in fact a cease and desist letter. However, since (form what I understand) the writing did not have “Cease and Desist” in the title, I’ve put it in the “disputed” list of allegations. The dispute however is more of a semantic one than a substantive one. 

So that is the summary of what is disputed and not disputed so far with respect to Bushcraft USA LLC trademarking the word bushcraft. So far the trademark for the word bushcraft remains in the ownership of Bushcraft USA LLC.

To save you a lot of trouble, if you look at the above facts and disputed allegations, and you do not see a problem, then reading the rest of the post is pointless. There is nothing wrong with that; we are each entitled to our opinions. If on the other hand you look at the above summary and think that something wrong has happened here, then the rest of the post will give you some omore detail and maybe worth a read.

Here is a screen capture of the trademark search from The United Stated Patent and Trademark Office:

Trademark Electronic Search System  TESS

Here is a close up of the relevant portion. Note the registered owner of the word bushcraft.

Copy of Trademark Electronic Search System  TESS

It looks like the registration went through in November of last year. I’m not sure when it was actually published. How did I find out about it? Well apparently their lawyer has been sending cease and desist letters to other forums that use the term, or so I was told. (update: since the post went up, Guy Wood, owner of Bushcraft USA LLC has stated that it wasn’t a legal letter, but that he contacted another forum owner to discuss his use of the word bushcraft.) I know a few forum owners that are now scrambling to change names in order to avoid litigation. Since the name of my blog does not include the word, it has not been a worry for me from that stand point.

I must admit that my mind was blown when I heard about this, and especially when I did the search myself and the above page came up at the trademark office. The arrogance required to trademark the word bushcraft is just beyond imagination. Look, financial motivations have always been a strong driving force for people, but this goes beyond anything I can imagine. 

How can this happen, you ask? Well, the trademark office are not exactly known for doing much due diligence. Since they weren’t familiar with the term, they just let it through. Any amount of research would have indicated that the word has been in use in the US for decades prior to the creation of Bushcraft USA LLC. There are certainly pre-existing commercial uses of the term prior to the creation of Buschraft USA LLC in the US, and certainly internationally. Bushcraft UK was in existence well before Bushcraft USA. After all, that is where Buscraft USA got the name for the forum. Horace Kephart used the term, and so did Richard Graves just to name a few.

Of course, just because a term is registered with the trademark office does not make the trademark enforceable in any way. I would love to see the lawyer that would manage to win this case in court.

That being said, the threat of litigation will have a serious chilling effect on many in our community. The people most directly effected will be private forum owners, blog writers, and small makers of bushcraft gear who utilize electronic means to market and sell their products Those people simply do not have the financial means to fight a lawsuit and will most likely fold under the threat. I think there is little question right now that Bushcraft USA, or should I say Bushcraft USA Limited Liability Company of Missouri, is a business enterprise, with financial gain as the driving mechanism behind the organization. We have Big Oil, I suppose now we have Big Bushcraft as well.

It is no secret that in recent decades our country has become obsessed with financial gain, and litigation has come to be one of the most common forms of human interaction, with everyone suing everyone else for everything. However, even I must admit that I could not have imagined this. I keep thinking, apparently falsely, that at least in our community, which is in theory focused on getting back to nature, back to simplicity, and to the skills of our ancestors such things would not occur. I’ve been proven wrong over and over as threats of litigation have become an essential part of getting back to nature. Apparently for some when we speak of learning the traditional skills of our ancestors, what comes to mind is not Daniel Boone and Horace Kephart but rather men like J.D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan.

Update: July 24, 2014

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Now, for those of you not familiar with the trademark process and trademark law, here are a few points which will help you detect the b.s. that I am sure will be unleashed soon. If you are really concerned about any action that may be taken against you, please contact an attorney in your jurisdiction. You should not take what I say here as legal advice in any way.

The word was trademarked in order to protect it for the community

The trademark process does not work based on who registers a mark first. It is not a race to the trademark office. What creates rights to a trademark is the actual commercial use of the mark within a jurisdiction; in this case the jurisdiction being the United States. If you are the first to use a mark in commerce, then no matter if someone registers the mark later, you still remain the one with the rights to the mark. Not only is the trademark not enforceable against you, but if you want it removed, you can file a cancelation request to the US Patent and Trademark Office, tell them that you were using the mark or word before the person who registered it, and the trademark will likely be removed. So, any statements to the extent of how Bushcraft USA LLC trademarked the word bushcraft to protect it from being trademarked by other random people is simply nonsensical. It is not how the trademark process works. Trademark registration is simply a tool for litigation.

Furthermore, commonly used words or marks can not be trademarked. You can not trademark the word survival, the word backpacking, or the word axe. First, second, or last at the trademark office, those are commonly used terms and can not be trademarked. Same goes for the word bushcraft. It is a commonly used term and as such can not be trademarked. That is why Bushcraft USA LLC’s current trademark is likely not enforceable. That is what makes the act of actually registering it so atrocious and unbelievable. It wouldn’t even cross the normal person’s mind to try to trademark such a word. What’s next? Backpacking Light trying to trademark the word backpacking? Or Council Tool Co trying to trademark the word tool?! The notion is as ridiculous from a legal standpoint as it is from a common sense one.

It’s not a trademark, it is just a service mark

A service mark is a type of trademark. It’s like saying “it’s not a car, it’s a sedan”. For those who don’t deal with this often, a service mark is simply a trademark on a word or mark related to the providing of services rather than goods. This is directly form the US Patent and Trademark Office: “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.” Again, whether it be service mark or trademark, they are both referred to as trademark and are equally despicable in this context.

Bro, it happened like two years ago

As far as the “Bro, this happened like two years ago” defense, the trademark, according to my research was not published until August 27, 2013 and wasn’t registered until November 13, 2013. I’m not sure how the filing of an application in early 2012 makes this any better, or how people would have known about it. I don’t believe there was any notification posted on the Bushcraft USA forum. The reality is that they snuck it in. That hardly makes the action any less despicable. 

Additionally, to the best of my knowledge, when you file an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office you have to swear that you do not know of any prior commercial use of the word or mark, and that the word or mark is not in common use. Whoever filed the application likely lied on the papers. There is no question that the word bushcraft was in commercial use, even electronic commercial use prior to the creation of Bushcraft USA LLC, and there is no question that it is a commonly used term.

Don’t take my word on any of this. Do your own search. The link to the US Patent and Trademark office is at the top of this post. Trademark filings are public record. 

Update: July 25, 2014

Just a few notes on last night’s developments. It appears that after Guy Wood got tired of threatening me, he and the rest of the Bushcraft USA LLC team took the time to write a statement explaining what is going on. After going through the same type of weak excuses we discussed yesterday, there were a few new excuses I wanted to touch on:

Mosrs Kochanski has trademarked the word bushcraft, so why can’t Bushcraft USA LLC do it

Well, Mors Kochanski has not in fact trademarked the word bushcraft anywhere. For starters, if he had trademarked it in the US, Bushcraft USA LLC would not have been able to get their own trademark. After all, Mors was using the word long before they were. Additionally, a search of the US Patent and Trademark Office and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office reveal no trademarks on the word bushcraft by Mors or anyone else. The only trademark on the word is that owned by Bushcraft USA LLC.

Someone was trying to trademark the word back in 2012, so Bushcraft USA had to do it first to protect their interests

That of course can not be true. If there was a competing party applying for the trademark, it would have become clear that this was a commonly used word, and the trademark would not have been granted at all. Besides, if Bushcraft USA LLC was worried about this other person or corporation trademarking the word, all they had to do was file an objection and stop it. They did not need to go through a two year process to get the trademark themselves, and do it all in secrecy. If this was a public service to the community, why was no announcement made when the process started? Why was the thread about this issue, which was posted on Bushcraft USA a day before I did my post taken down immediately and the people responsible for it banned? Why was I threatened with litigation when I exposed this “noble community service”. This reminds me of some words by one of my favorite bands: “Ooooh that smell; Can't you smell that smell”.

Someone tired to trademark the word recently and got upset when they couldn’t to do it

Well, that person certainly wasn’t me, yet here I am all upset about it. If there was in fact such a despicable person, then they lack integrity just like the people who did this two years ago. Being the first one to do a reprehensible thing just makes you faster, not less of a bad person.

We are the top ranked bushcraft forum of Google and someone was trying to take us down, so we had to register the word to protect ourselves

That doesn’t even begin to make any sense. How was someone trying to take down Buschraft USA back in 2012? Does that mean there was simply a competing bushcraft forum that had a chance of becoming higher ranked? If so, trademarking the word just so you can undercut them is a despicable move. It is clear how that helps Bushcraft USA, but not at all clear on how it helps the community or furthers education. Besides, how exactly is trademarking the term bushcraft going to prevent this other mysterious entity of taking them down? The only practical way that I can see is to threaten to sue them and hope they close down. If anyone can come up with another scenario here, please let me know.

The trademark symbol (TM) has appeared on BuschraftUSA banners and gear for years, so people should have known the word bushcraft was trademarked

Well, that is a more sophisticated way of saying “Bro, that was like years ago!” The fact that no one discovered it earlier doesn’t make it less reprehensible as an act. Furthermore, the (TM) on Bushcraft USA banners and products is for “Bushcraft USA”. The TM is not displayed for the word “bushcraft” but rather BushcraftUSA(TM). To claim that their use of the allegedly trademarked term BushcraftUSA should have put people on notice that they also got a trademark for the word bushcraft is a disingenuous argument.

Bushcraft USA LLC only has a service mark with respect to forums, nothing else

This does not conform with the documents provided by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The trademark registration actually includes a limitation clause. You know it is a limitation clause because it says “Limitations Statement”. The one of this trademark filing reads, and I quote: “Limitation Statement: As to “Bushcraft”” That’s it. All the other language about providing electronic service on top of the page is just a description of what the trademark holder actually does. However, assuming the trademark is only applicable to electronic services that would mean that their trademark applies to any forum, blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page, Google + page, and company that markets or distributes goods and services through electronic means. So, using this trademark, Bushcraft USA LLC would be able to shut down Blades and Bushcraft (forum), Rocky Mountain Bushcraft (blog), Northwest Bushcraft (YouTube channel), and Foster Knives (seller) who offer a Bushcraft knife in their inventory. I’ve just picked an example from each category. I’m sure you can add hundreds more especially if we look at Facebook ad Google+ pages. If to you that is nothing, then you have nothing to worry about.

Oh, and lastly, a US trademark can actually apply to foreign entities is they transact business within the jurisdiction of the United States.

We are a nation of laws. This is now the law. If you don’t like it too bad

Interesting argument indeed. However, if I was Buschraft USA LLC and friends, I wouldn’t harp too much on the law. Not only is this trademark a joke from a legal sand point, but whoever filed this application may very well end up facing charges and/or fines for defrauding the US Patent and Trademark Office. So screaming about the law may not be the best move for Bushcraft USA LLC.

Besides, when did something being legal become the same as it being the right thing to do. There have been plenty of murderers who have gotten away due to technicalities in the law. Does that make those murders a good thing, or something we should support and not be upset about? Seems like a very twisted was of looking at things.

Bushcraft USA has never used and has no plans for using the trademark against anyone

Why thank you benevolent dictator. Everyone knows that a corporation’s word it its bond. To make things unbelievably worse, I am told there was some discussion in last night’s thread, regarding how other forums and blogs can still use the word bushcraft in their name, but they have to ask Bushcraft USA LLC for permission and possibly pay a fee. I wish I was there to take some screen captures of it. Understandably, things blew up. As a result, people were banned, the thread was taken down (all 23 pages of it), and the Bushraft USA Facebook page was scrubbed clean and all comments removed.

Furthermore, it appears from communications I have received from other people (I was not there personally) that at a Georgia meet last year, Guy Wood made it clear that he was the owner of the word bushcraft, and that he was going to use the trademark of the word to shut down a specific competing forum as well as anyone who used the word buschraft on the internet. Seems like that attempt was made against at least one forum I know, which Guy Wood specifically named as a target at the meet last year, and now that forum is in the process of changing their name. I have been contacted by Chuck Winchester, among others, who I understand was the organizer of the Georgia meet last year, and he has confirmed the above statement. 

In addition to the above we all remember the threats of litigation Guy Wood made against me yesterday. Due to popular demand I’m putting back up the email I received from Guy Woods. In the interest of fairness, I have also included my response to him in the screen capture.

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It would appear, shockingly, that yet another corporation has acted in its own self interest and for financial gain at the expense of the regular guy. Bushcraft USA LLC has stolen one of the most used words in our community and used it to further their own self interest. If Bushcraft USA wants to keep the word integrity in their forum caption, they need to surrender this trademark right now, and apologize to the community for what they have done. There is no such thing as a benevolent dictator; there are just dictators.

Update: July 25, 2014

There has been a lot said about this issue in the last two days. A lot of it has been a smoke and mirrors routine worthy of Johnie Cochran. I can sit here and make legal arguments all day long, and point to you why all of the "defenses" being presented do not hold any weight. I can explain to you why I don't believe Bushcraft USA has a valid trademark. I can tell you how to file a cancellation of trademark request. However, I will not, nor should anyone take what I say as legal advise on the issue.

Instead, I will ask everyone who is currently going through fine print and Google inspired legal maneuvering, the following:

Is this the type of America you want to live in? Is this the type of America you want your children to live in? An America where it is considered a good thing that you were first to commit a horrible act. An America where words like "bushcraft", "woodsmanship", "knife", etc can be owned by corporations. An America where it is considered just good business to then try to shut down small forums, blogs, and independent producers who are struggling to make ends meet by selling their products online. An America where all of the above is considered to constitute integrity.

I ask you this not from a legal stand point, but from a moral and from a common sense perspective.

I have no delusions of Bushcraft USA LLC going away. They are a large corporation, and if history has thought us anything it's that large corporations don't go away. That doesn't mean we have to pretend that what has been done is not atrocious. At the end of the day, after all of the dust settles, the beginning, middle, and end of the story is that a corporate entity now owns the trademark to the word bushcraft. The WORD bushcraft! We can spin it however we like, but those facts will not change.

Update: July 26, 2014

Well, not a lot of developments since the last update, but the developments that we have had have been substantive ones.

The first is perhaps the most significant since this whole story broke, first on Bushcraft USA, then on several other forums, and eventually here on this blog. It seems that Bushcraft USA LLC has finally given up on efforts to justify its action and deny the facts of what they have done. Bushcraft USA LLC appears to have tacitly admitted to the fact that they trademarked the word bushcraft; that they did it to further their own financial and personal interests by preserving their status as the largest bushcraft related forum; and that they have used that trademark to force other forums to change their names or face legal action. Guy Wood however insists that the demands made to other forums to change their name or get sued were not legally drafted letters, but rather private communications between him and the owners of those other forums. I tend to believe him as his actions have been so ill advised that it would be hard to believe they were the result of any legal advice or the involvement of legal counsel.

A minor down side to Bushcraft USA LLC giving up on denying the allegations made earlier, here and elsewhere, has been that in a fit of anger, they have launched a full scale smear campaign against me personally. Sadly, these personal attack have been entirely based on aspects of my life that have nothing to do with the outdoors at all, let alone with the issue of Bushcraft USA LLC trademaking the word bushcraft. I suppose I should be upset that Bushcraft USA LLC has chosen to drag through the mud my private life, but I am not. Ironically, the personal parts of my life that they have chosen to “expose” and mock, I do not consider either secret, or shameful. It has simply been quite entertaining watching a group of grown men giggle like young schoolgirls. I suppose it is the innocent, charming side of Bushcraft USA LLC. It’s sad that in characteristic fashion it had to be revealed though their attempts to wage a smear campaign against yet another individual in a feeble attempt at retaliation, but its cute none the less.

The second development, which has largely been the result of Bushcraft USA LLC tacitly making the above admissions, has been a somewhat uncoordinated attempt to claim that the registration of the trademark for the word bushcraft was a mistake. The story goes that they were trying to register a trademark for BuscraftUSA, but the US Patent and Trademark Office made a mistake and gave then a trademark for the word bushcraft instead. Now, anyone who is familiar with the process, knows that this is impossible. There are detailed documents that have to be submitted, describing the trademark in every possible way, numerous times. There is no way such a specific error was made with respect to all aspects of those documents.

That being said, I’ve spent the day improving my water trapping sets, and am in particularly good mood, so I figured I would give them the benefit of a doubt. Let’s say for a moment that Bushcraft USA LLC in fact intended to trademark BushcraftUSA, but by mistake was given the trademark for the word bushcraft. According to the earlier “Bro, that happened like two ears ago” defense, this happened two years ago. The trademark was then published for review in August of 2013, and then made public in November of 2013. If this was in fact an unintended error, why didn’t Bushcraft USA LLC fix it during this two year period. All they had to do was write a letter to the US Patent and Trademark Office, and the error would have been fixed. There were endless opportunities to do it. Well, let’s say that maybe they forgot. Even so, when they were reminded of the “error” by a thread that was started on their own forum several days ago, they certainly had the opportunity to cancel the trademark. Yet it wasn’t done. Instead those people were banned, the forums that wrote about it were threatened with litigation if they do not remove the post, and so were bloggers (me) who also wrote about it. Such peculiar behavior from someone who has made an error. Even so, in the spirit of generosity, I say let’s give Bushcraft USA LLC yet another chance to do the right thing: cancel this preposterous trademark, apologize to the community for this “error”, and save whatever piece of integrity is left in that organization.

Update: July 29, 2014

Alright, so there has been a new update from the excuse factory. It appears that the “it was an accident” excuse has been abandoned, because well… it was silly. The current excuse has reverted back to “Yes, we trademarked the term, but we had to, and we’ve never used it against anyone”.

There are two components to this excuse. The first is that Buschraft USA LLC had to trademark the word bushcraft in order to protect themselves from yet unidentified forces of evil. This assertion is of course false. That’s not only because there is no evidence of it, but it’s simply not true from a legal stand point. Assuming there was in fact a threat to Buschraft USA LLC, and someone else was trying to register the word bushcraft (something of which there is no evidence at the US Patent and Trademark Office), then all Buschraft USA LLC had to do was to file a one paragraph objection with the office, and the term would have remained in the public domain. Instead, Buschraft USA LLC went through a two year process to trademark the term. Had to do it? Absolutely not! Besides, if they indeed needed protection, they could have trademarked BushcraftUSA, BCUSA, Bushcraft Outfitters, Bushclass, or any other variant of their name. They did not. Instead, they trademarked the word buschraft. Had to do it? No! No they didn’t!

The second component of the excuse is the allegation that Buschraft USA LLC has never acted against anyone on the bases of the trademark. In support of that assertion, Buschrtaft USA LLC has repeatedly stated that no one has produced a cease and desist letter, which according to them proves that they have never acted against anyone. Now, let me ask you this, do you know what a cease and desist letter is? A cease and desist letter is just a piece of writing which tells someone to stop doing something. It is also called a demand letter. Guy Wood already admitted that he contacted one forum to “discuss” their use of the term bushcraft in their forum name. That is all that is required from a cease and desist letter. It’s not a magical legal document. It is just a writing which tells someone else to stop doing something. In this case Guy Wood admitted to doing it. So…

Amusingly, to make the above sad excuse more palatable, someone came up with what I consider the most ridiculous argument in this whole fiasco, i.e. that owning the trademark for the word buschraft and not using it is the same as owning a gun and not shooting someone. That comparison makes absolutely no sense. The comparison would only be accurate if we could all register a trademark for the word buschraft at the same time, and then sue each other over it. As it stand right now, a more appropriate comparison for Buschraft USA LLC owning the trademark to the word bushcraft would be if a corporation got a law passed which only allowed that corporation to own any guns. Anyone else who wants to own guns would have to ask the corporation for permission and/or pay them. That is the gun equivalent of what has happened here. Would you have a problem with one corporation being the only one with the right to own any guns? What if they hadn’t shot anyone yet with their guns?

And last but not least, today it was made public that on July 24, 2014, after this post was published, Bushcraft USA LLC filed for a supplemental trademark for the term Buschraft USA with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Bushcraft USA LLC now owns the trademark for both Buschraft USA and the actual word buschraft

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All I can say is… finally! Now we can finally get past all of the b.s. excuses about how Bushcraft USA LLC had to trademark the word bushcraft in order to protect the Buschraft USA Forum. As it was evident from the beginning, that was just a weak excuse. They could have just as easily, if not more easily, trademarked the actual name, Bushcraft USA, rather than making a power grab for the word bushcraft. It’s sad that we had to go through all this for Buschraft USA LLC to finally register the proper term. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that we have absolutely no problem with the registration of Bushcraft USA.

Maybe now that Bushcraft USA LLC has finally registered the trademark for the proper term, and we no longer have to pretend that they had to register the word bushcraft, they can do the right thing, surrender the word buschraft, and return it back to the community.

Monday, July 21, 2014

DIY Stove Hanging Kit For A Remote Canister Stove

Hanging a stove is a practice with which I imagine not many people are familiar. It is common with climbers, but hasn’t seen much use in the general outdoor community. The concept is to use a device to hang the pot and stove above the ground while you are cooking with it. Why? Well, there are several reasons you may want to or have to do that. If you find yourself on terrain where there simply is no space to set up a stove on the ground, you may have to hang it. Alternatively, if you are trapped by a storm inside your tent, you may have to use a stove hanging kit so you can use the stove inside the tent.

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Above picture is from Markhor Climbing.

These days stove hanging is done primarily with integrated stove/pot systems like Jetboil or the MSR Reactor. The companies even make their own stove hanging kits. In the past though, just about any stove has been modified for hanging.

Well, as you know lately I have been using a Kovea Spider remote canister stove. I’ve also been testing out the Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 tent, which unlike my GoLite Shangri-La 3, does not have an open floor. That makes using the stove inside the tent difficult. One of the solutions has been to suspend the stove within the tent. To that end, I tired to make a hanging kit for it.

Why not just get a Jetboil stove? Well, upright canister stoves like Jetboil have serious limitations in the cold. I would much rather stick with a remote cansiter stove that allows for inverted canister use. That way I can run the stove in liquid fuel mode at much lower temperatures than I could with a standard Jetboil or a MSR Reactor stove. 

My initial attempt was to use an existing stove hanging kit produced by Jetboil. It’s a very nice design, and I figured it would make my job easier. Here is the result:

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Now, those of you who are familiar with the Jetboil hanging kits know there is more to it than that. One step at a time.

The Jetboil hanging kit consists of a folding triangle with wires that connect at a central hook above the stove. The triangle is designed to grab and hold the base of the Jetboil stove. What I’ve done is to thread it under the legs of the Kovea Spider, which worked out very well and made for a stable fit.

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That was the easy part. With an integrated stove/pot system like the Jetboil, that is all you need because the fuel is attached to the stove. With a remote canister stove like the Kovea Spider however, the fuel canister is left hanging by the fuel hose. In all honesty, that is not a huge problem. If I am in my tiny tent cooking with a suspended stove, I can easily keep the canister on my lap, but I wanted to make a complete system. So, the next part of the project was to find a way to easily connect the fuel canister to the body of the stove.

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First, I took a regular paperclip, straightened it out, and folded it into a triangle. One end of the paperclip I bent into a hook, so that the other end can catch under it. I played around with it until the triangle was tight enough so that it can securely catch under the lip around the opening of the canister.

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I then made some hooks from another paperclip and attached them to this triangle with short pieces of wire. The hooks connect to the legs of the stove.

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And that’s all there is to it… sort of. Happy with the result, I put a pot of water on the stove, and lit it up. By the time I pulled back to take a picture, this was the result:

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Apparently the Jetboil Hanging kit is not made from metal. I thought it was aluminum, but it’s not. Within seconds of making contact with the flame, it melted. Not good, and back to the drawing board.

The solution, and a lazy one at that, was to remove the wires from the kit and slide them directly onto the legs of the stove. You lose a bit of clearance by doing that, but it works fine none the less. Oh, yeah, and it works when lit.

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The only minor difficulty was that the loops in the wire from the Jetboil hanging kit that were attached to the triangle were a bit too small to slide onto the legs. However I noticed that the loops which attached to the central hook were larger. The solution was to just turn the cables around and slide the small loops onto the central hook and then use the larger ones on the stove legs.

All of the components of the final stove hanging kit weigh 0.6oz. I’m sure there are better and more creative ways to do all this, but this is what I came up with. I prefer to keep the canister upright when hanging a stove in a tent and I find that the heat of the stove inside the tent keeps the canister warm enough to operate, but if you want it inverted, you can certainly modify the above design so that the hooks catch the canister’s lower lip when inverted. Here is a much more polished design by David Kreindler that he calls Cryophilio. He actually designed his own legs to they can grip the canister without added parts (beyond my skill level).

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It makes my design look rather pathetic, but I hope it gives you some ideas.