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One For All…or Not

I’m using my You Can Grow That! blog post this month to explain how this phrase, and my plant/horticulture campaign idea, has taken an unexpected turn.

As many of you know, last October I had the idea to use “You Can Grow That!” as a catch phrase to promote horticulture in general. (It was on the 24th – the word document that I created when brainstorming this idea is logged as being created on 10-24-11.) On that night I also bought the URL for this phrase as a .com, .net, and .org, figuring that in the future a group of like-minded folks could make use of these.

On October 25th I wrote an open letter that was emailed to many of you about the ways we could use this phrase. On Nov. 4th I posted a version of this letter on my blog and website, sent in letters to various green-industry publications, and posted on garden Facebook groups.

On December 9th the company that owns Scotts Miracle Gro applied for a trademark for the phrase “You Can Gro That!”

Some people just don’t play well with others.

I learned about their application in early July when I started the process to trademark this phrase and found it was too late to challenge their application. I had a conversation with an attorney who does trademark litigation and has had dealings with Scotts Miracle Gro in the past. We went over my options, most of which would take time, money, and fortitude. She mentioned that in the past Scotts has been an extremely litigious company, even when they’re in the wrong.

I came up with this concept as a means for everyone to promote what we love: gardening and horticulture. Since last March a group of likeminded garden bloggers have posted a You Can Grow That! blog post every month on the fourth. My plan had been to use one of the YCGT urls to repost some of these articles and links to all the monthly posts.

Now I must reconsider. I don’t want to start growing a website that Scotts Miracle Gro could spray with Roundup at any time they wish. I do not have the time and money to fight a legal battle about this, nor do I want that fractious energy in my life.

I will stop using this phrase after this month because I in no way want to either battle Scotts Miracle Gro or promote their products. Others are free to do as they wish about the use of this slogan. The You Can Grow That! bloggers are posting again this month but will most likely regroup under another catchphrase in the future. (Trademarked first…lesson learned.)

My heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who has supported this idea. I value your willingness to grow something good and know that we will keep planting.

Anyone who's planted a garden knows that a group of flowers makes a better show than one or two blooms. When it comes to garden design, mass matters. So it is with human pursuits. We create beautiful things when we group together.


21 comments to One For All…or Not

  • We’re behind you 100% on this. It is still a great idea, but Scotts did what it only knows how to do- they tried to poison it.
    It the end it will be the positive energy of all who are in this project that wins.
    They may be ‘might’ but you’re ‘right’.

  • The phrase “You can grow that” contains a “w” in grow. Scotts Miracle Gro will never get my money. It just goes to show you this company is only about the money. “W” stands for whole. Whole is about integrity. It is about time we stop buying products from companies that do not have any integrity and that are only about the money. Let’s keep growing!

  • TC

    I reckon it really is a dog-eat-dog world. Maybe I should save up the $$$ and trademark “The Write Gardener.” I’ve been told I should. But the process seems excruciating, I’ve looked into it!

    Sorry YCGT didn’t pan out for ya.

  • […] to her website, garden writer CL Fornari decided last October to start a campaign titled, “You Can Grow That”. Once a week any garden […]

  • Gardening Ireland

    I’m not up on legals but wouldn’t it be OK as the spelling is different?

  • !@#$%^&* is what I have to say about what happened to you, CL. I am like you…if you have the multiple URLs, it would seem you had it legally by eminent domain, so to speak. I was advised to TM everything at a retreat mastermind last month…they said just put it up there automatically on your signature, your headline, your logo.. if you are a MAC….. ™ (trademark): OPTION + shift + 2. My heart goes out to is a damn shame !@#$%^&* …xx mp

  • We can’t trademark our saying even if the spelling is one letter off…these rules are there to (hopefully) prevent confusion among the public. Also, I’m not thrilled about continuing to use a phrase that might end up promoting SMG products.

  • I certainly didn’t need another reason to avoid this company entirely but I have one anyway.

    I actually saw their “You Can Gro That” sign in Home Depot stores a few weeks ago and I immediately wondered if you had known about it. What a shame that such a large company with money to spend on advertising would resort to stealing someone else’s idea.

    For what it’s worth, even though your slogan may be ruined, I think your concept will live on.

  • Hey C.L.
    I don’t know if you are going to the Garden Writers Symposium (you usually do) in Tucson in Oct. but Scotts is giving their usual propaganda talk at one of the breakfasts…I propose we organize a walk out. Everyone who supports you gets up and walks out when their propagandist starts talking. Most of us don’t buy their products because they are poisoning the environment, now they are stealing established ideas from prominent garden writers… Screw them!

  • C.L. Scotts will regret this move….you watch!!!!! we are with you and notSCOTTS…

    jeff lowenfels

  • penny o'sullivan

    C.L., I admire your grace in learning a hard lesson and moving on in a positive frame of mind. I am with you.

  • I really hope we will continue as a group. You have no idea how much I have learned already from my fellow garden bloggers. Whatever you do, please come up with another catchy phrase, claim it and let’s continue so I can learn more, so we can teach others and expand our group!

  • My skin literally crawls every time I hear their Home Depot “plant a garden today” ads on the radio. Yuck.

  • Without actually naming Scotts, but clearly it is aimed at them; this advertisement from Espoma announcing their new Organic Lawn Care line of products available in 2013 is a lot like the Apple ad in 1984 announcing the Macintosh…

    How can a garden product company ignore the fact that they are increasingly looked upon in a negative light by the garden community.

  • […] she realized what had happened, there wasn’t much she could do.  As she explained in a blog post yesterday, she talked to a lawyer and the advice was to give it up.  Scotts will out-lawyer her all day […]

  • […] she realized what had happened, there wasn’t much she could do.  As she explained in a blog post yesterday, she talked to a lawyer and the advice was to give it up.  Scotts will out-lawyer her all day […]

  • […] “Looking for inspiration and relaxation? It’s all in your own backyard.”         « One For All…or Not […]

  • Man, C.L., I really hate that they did this to you/to us. I have enjoyed the once a month blog about what we can grow. I have enjoyed reading other people’s posts. I’m still with you.

  • I was waiting for this day to come and members would see the light of sustainability. What a difference a year can make! Excited for the future!

  • luise h.

    I am outraged and offended at Scotts callous approach to just take whatever they like, pass it off as their own and rely on their deep pockets to skate away free.
    No, I don’t blame you for not attempting a legal fight. Maybe you should come up with a price to sell them the domain and URL , before they scoop that up for free when you don’t renew. And have the price match their deep pockets!Then let all of us know where the ” you can grow bloggers” will post.
    I have not used ANY Scotts product in 10years and try to discourage anyone I know from using that poison.

  • Whether it was theft or ignorance of your own well-considered catch phrase, it still sucks. No, you wouldn’t want to inadvertently tie in with Scotts products. Sorry this happened to you. It sounds like you had a good idea.