Firstly, I am not affiliated with Grimfrost or any of the companies involved in the Heathen dispute. I am not being sponsored, coerced, compensated or in anyway receiving payment for this post. None of the links are affiliate links.
This situation for wont of a better word is something I feel strongly about. So I am writing this because I feel it has value to current and potential readers of this blog. Please make sure to read all of the information and contained links, before you make your own mind up. Then please share this with others whom you think may have an interest.
Ok in brief an unscrupulous American company has trademarked the word “Heathen” for use on clothing and other items in the US. Grimfrost have taken a stand and beat this company to the punch regarding the EU. Grimfrost does not plan to send out cease and desist letters or infringement notices like the American company has been. Rather Grimfrost are trying to protect everyones right to use the word and others.
Jan 30th 2020
Grimfrost released a blog post titled: The day we never thought would arrive is here. (It will open in a new tab). Please go and carefully read it then come back.
Like any educated, sensible, honourable and intelligent person; Arve, Hegg, Sjöberg and the rest of the Grimfrost Crew find it very silly that someone should be allowed to trademark a general word. I agree; Lets look at this logically!
Jedi Vs Heathen
Take for example the word Jedi. This is a word that was created for a product, namely the Star Wars franchise. This word didn’t exist before Mr Lucas,
“Jedi, the name of the ancient knighthood, is a tip of the hat to [Edgar Rice] Burrough’s Barsoom, where lords bear the title of Jed or Jeddak.” NYTimes
As a made up/inspired word created specifically for a product, much like a brand name this could be trademarked or copyrighted. I feel that this would be acceptable. Like the way Grimfrost created their own brand name.
Now let’s look at heathen.
“Old English hæðen “not Christian or Jewish,” also as a noun, “heathen man, one of a race or nation which does not acknowledge the God of the Bible” (especially of the Danes), merged with Old Norse heiðinn (adj.) “heathen, pagan,” from Proto-Germanic *haithana- (source also of Old Saxon hedhin, Old Frisian hethen, Dutch heiden, Old High German heidan, German Heiden), which is of uncertain origin.” Online Etymology Dictionary
Now a key feature of this information is the use of the word old. At least 10th Century if not earlier. To give this a little context 1066 was 953 years ago. Therefore, Heathen is a word that has been around for at least 1000 years and in variation across seven or more languages. Yet American law thinks it’s ok to trademark it.
Where will it end?
Pause and think about this for a moment. If its ok to trademark a 1000 year old word, where does it stop? How about the word Christian, or Muslim? Many people identify Heathen as being a spiritual/ religious identifier along with Pagan (I identify proudly as both). For some Heathen denotes a lifestyle choice, or cultural identity. So, how about trademarking other lifestyle and cultural names such as Punk, Emo or Hippie.
Grimfrost take a stand
If you read all of the first blog made by Grimfrost, you are aware that they made the bold decision to trademark Heathen and a handful of other words for use on t-shirts (My Ulfhedin t-shirt is one of my favourite items of clothing, so I’m glad they managed to register that word). Grimfrost also released a second post on the 30th Jan Reflections (again please go and read it then come back).(Edit. Grimfrost have removed this blog post)
This second post makes it apparent that some are not happy with the action Grimfrost have taken. Unfortunately forcing Grimfrost to respond and name them in an attempt to clarify things. Now in the first post Grimfrost clearly state that they never plan on going after companies who use the words they have registered on clothes. Again in Reflections they state their intentions to not stop the use of these words.
Our intention has never been and will never be to go after others using the terms on clothesGrimfrost
Heathen – Open letter to businesses and Heathen Communities
In Heathen – Open letter to businesses and Heathen Communities (again please take the time to read the post), Grimfrost explain what they are trying to achieve, investing time and money into attempting to not only keep these words safe from the unscrupulous, but also in how to make them public access yet still protected. Ensuring that Heathen communities also still have access to using the word. This is one of the reasons I fully support Grimfrost in this endeavor.
There is a petition by Heathen communities in the US against this company so please feel free to add your signature to it here
Grimfrost are one of the brands that inspired me to start up this blog and the associated Hrafn designs. There is a long way to go, before we reach a similar status. As a young blog I doubt my words on this will carry much weight, But I feel it’s important that I offer them.
Please feel free to comment, and please share this with anyone you feel may be interested or concerned about this situation.
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