Through a coordinated effort, several parties with long-standing engagement with and commitment to herbs and herbalism prevented consumer confusion concerning the word “herbalist” by opposing the use of the term as a trademark by an entity not associated with herbalists.
On June 9, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a publication inviting opposition to a pending trademark registration application for “Herbalist.” The application had been submitted by HerbalistSP LLC, a company that provides demo services in the alcoholic beverage industry with in-store samples of adult beverages.
Within days of the issuance of the publication, prominent U.S. herbalists contacted the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the American Botanical Council (ABC) and the American Herbalists Guild (AHG) with a request to “join us in keeping ‘herbalist’ trademark free.”
AHPA, ABC, and AHG, along with two of the herb industry’s legacy brands – Herbalist & Alchemist and Traditional Medicinals – in early October 2020 jointly filed a formal Notice of Opposition to the application before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Twists and turns that would interest only a trademark attorney followed. At the end of the process, HerbalistSP LLC withdrew its trademark registration application, and the company’s website now states: “HerbalistSP has no affiliation with medical, medicinal or herbal products; nor with herbalism or herbalists; and provides no education related to herbals or practicing herbalism.”
“This was a great opportunity for cooperation all across our dynamic herbal community,” commented AHPA’s president, Michael McGuffin. “And of course the outcome made all of our work worthwhile at the end, similar to our success in having a trademark for the name ‘rooibos’ abandoned almost 20 years ago.”
…but that’s another story.