Something grave and dire has unfortunately caught our attentions this weekend. Something most people would think could not, and would not happen.
The word, and usage of said word are now trademarked. The word we are referring to is “Heathen” and others. Yes. The term that thousands of people around the world use to identify themselves, has now been trademarked, and is no longer allowed to be used on items that are being sold or distributed.
This has happened both in the United States and in Europe. In the U.S a company named “Heathen Productions” has been serving cease and desist orders. “His company has been serving vendors, crafters and merchants who even so much as use the word Heathen in their description box for their product with take down orders and threatening legal action if they do not comply. He is not a Heathen himself but he is affecting the livelihood of many Heathens just trying to support their families and or kindreds.” - Heathens vs. Heathen Nation Petition
This was the first event to happen, and while it sounds bad, and it is, it gets worse.
Other large companies in Europe have also trademarked the same words but for different reasons, claiming it was only done to protect the sanctity of the words. Only time will tell what is done with this power.
So how does this effect you, and the greater Heathen community? Well, unless you’re in the business of selling apparel or other jewelry and items, to be honest this will not really effect you. But if you are in that business, your livelihood could be at stake.
How does TAC, The Asatru Community, an actual Heathen organization feel about this?
Its not good.
No one should own the rights to a word that describes an entire people, it can be likened to trademarking the word “christian” and telling people that they could no longer use it as they wanted, that they needed permission first. Its ludicrous and a mistake on the administrative side that either of these companies were granted trademarks for the term Heathen. Neither should have done as they did, and neither has a strong case in court.
The Heathen community needs to come together in frith and not build up walls out of greed and a hunger for money.
Our official stance is this:
No man, group, or business should be allowed to own the rights to use common terms. Especially terms that are used to identify entire groups of people such as “Heathen”. It should be free to use by the people of the hearth that it describes, not to be monopolized by businesses for profit. The name belongs to us all, period.
We will not stand idle while money hungry companies around the world try to take your rights away, we are free, we are Heathen, and we are strong.
Let your voices be heard and sign this petition!
Carry on Heathen friends, and be strong in the name of the gods!