The Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC) increases the access to and availability of locally produced food in and around Rutland, Vermont, through education and expanding market access for local producers. An initiative of the Vermont Farmers Market Education Center, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, VFFC launched in 2012 as a grassroots, volunteer-led project. Now eight years old, the organization has some big plans: They are developing an agricultural center in downtown Rutland to help with local food aggregation and storage, plus a commercial kitchen and educational space.
With all that expansion in the works, the VFFC team is rightfully thinking about branding. What kind of slogan might they use on their website and publications to get the message out about their mission and programs – without breaking any trademark rules?
“We were fortunate that just when the Vermont Farmers Food Center was looking for answers and legal guidance, the Vermont Legal Food Hub came online,” said VFFC president Greg Cox. When VFFC reached out to the Hub – an initiative of Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems and Conservation Law Foundation – they were quickly matched with Francine Miller, an attorney with Vermont Law School’s Food and Agriculture Clinic, who specializes in intellectual property. Miller outlined the pros and cons of a trademark the organization was considering and offered suggestions to help the team find a solution while minimizing legal risks.
“From the initial intake form to talking with an attorney specializing in intellectual property, working with the Legal Food Hub helped us clarify the issue and gave us the information we needed to move forward,” Cox said. “This program is an important and valuable resource to support food hubs and the local food movement.”