The Hannah Grimes Center Succeeds in its Rightful Use of the term “Localvore”

In a successful defense of its rightful use of the domain name localvore.com, the decision of a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) Panel noted that the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship clearly demonstrated first use of the term “localvore” before Localvore, Inc., that they used “localvore”  in good faith. They further noted that the term is generic and in widespread use as a movement.

According to Mary Ann Kristiansen, Executive Director of the Hannah Grimes Center, “Under the umbrella of Hannah Grimes, this region’s volunteer-led localvore activities have included supporting markets, farm scholarships, workshops and other activities that have raised awareness about the value of eating local food from 2006 to present.  Localvore, Inc. aggressively shut down our localvore web page and initiated a legal action that threatened these activities. Notably, other communities and entities use the generic term localvore as well, and Hannah Grimes felt it was equally important to defend the rights of others in this movement to use this popular term.”

Wasserbauer IP Law assisted in the matter and Kristiansen welcomed the decision.  “Localvores everywhere should applaud this decision. It supports the fact that the localvore movement consisting of community groups and small businesses across the country that promote the notion of eating locally raised food, was alive and well long before Localvore, Inc. began their commercial activities.  The term is generic and should continue to be freely used to support grass-roots activities that raise awareness about the many benefits that eating local food brings to a community,” said Kristiansen.

Localvore, Inc. based in Burlington, VT holds the trademarks for Localvore and Localvore Today and filed a UDRP Policy complaint this October in accordance with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to transfer the domain names to Localvore, Inc. from the Hannah Grimes Center..  The Hannah Grimes Center defended this request as it registered the domain names and has had an active localvore presence in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire since 2006 while Localvore, Inc. has only been engaged in their activities since 2012.

The Panel that issued the December 2019 decision in favor of the Hannah Grimes Center found that Localvore, Inc. fell “well short” of establishing a case that Hannah Grimes lacks rights and legitimate interests in the domain names.  In fact, the Panel ruled the case submitted by Localvore, Inc. on the basis that Hannah Grimes had no right or legitimate interest in the domain name had “no merit at all.” The Panel also noted that the domain name consists of a dictionary word and that “usually [dictionary words] cannot be trademarked and even if they are trademarked they do not create monopoly rights”.

The Panel found that “As part of localvore movement it is significant that third parties have taken to using the word in the same way in their business names and activities.”  Lastly the Panel stated, “The fact that the Respondent [Hannah Grimes] has built up a local involvement in its regional community in carrying out its worthwhile and recognized activities only strengthens the findings that the Panel makes.”

About Wasserbauer IP Law; Damian Wasserbauer:

Damian Wasserbauer specializes in patent strategy, litigation, prosecution, and licensing. He works protecting services and technologies primarily in software, electrical, consumer electronics, Internet, and telecommunication businesses. He has more than twenty-five years of experience in the intellectual property field, serving as in-house counsel, private practitioner, consultant, and IP bar leader.
He focuses his practice on counseling, negotiations, IP asset management and strategy, IP litigation and litigation management and dispute resolution, quality methodology applied to legal services, transactions and licensing, and IP issues relating to international relations. His practice involves providing opinions on patentability, infringement, and validity of patents. In addition, he has drafted or overseen the drafting of hundreds of patent applications for electrical, electronics, telecommunications, and software-based technologies.

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