“Vegan” is a trademark worth $500,000 per year.
Published on Jun 30, 2017
I was unaware that “vegan” is a trademark, and generating over half a million dollars per year for its owners.
As I mentioned in a few videos recently, I am the sort of guy who reads annual financial reports from major vegan foundations and institutions because I’m trying to learn from their experience.
I’m trying to learn from what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong.
And I was surprised when I found in the pages of the Vegan Society’s Annual Report, they claim that the word vegan is their trademark.
Not only do they have the word trademarked, they are successfully using this trademark to generate quite a lot of money, you can see the exact amount of money in British pounds on screen, it works out to be more than half a million U.S. dollars per year.
That’s a surprise, I think for anyone who conceives of veganism as a political movement, as an ideology, or even as a diet, you’re shocked to find out that the word vegan is held as a trademark. If it’s going to be held as a trademark, I’m happy to learn that the vegan society owns it as a trademark and it’s not owned by some other for-profit company or entity or corporation, that’d be even stranger.
But nevertheless, I can’t say I’m really comfortable with the idea of anyone having a trademark on the word vegan, I don’t think anyone can be comfortable with seeing that there’s a trademark on their own political ideology.
And I have over the years seen some products avoid using the word vegan, they use these other terms like plant-based, or they just have a whole other sentence on the package saying it “does not contain any animal products or any animal derived products.”
It never occurred to me that some of those products might be avoiding the use of the word ‘vegan,’ because it was trademarked or because there’d be an expectation for them to actually pay money to a foundation or agency, to be able to use the word.
Now I don’t have any reason to think that the vegan society is abusing their power in holding this trademark, I’d be very interested even to know if anyone wants to email me if they’ve heard something or read something about what the implications of this are for companies who are using the word vegan.
I just feel that we already have too much of a problem, with individuals and political movements avoiding the word vegan. It’d be a much longer video if I got into that, but I’ve seen that, I’ve even seen formal political movements within Canada that said no, they didn’t want to use the word vegan, that we’re using these other complex terms about animal rights and ecology and what-have-you. And I really do like the simplicity and directness and honesty of the word vegan, I like its simplicity in a reference to a diet and ethics and ecology and as a political heading. I don’t want to stop using the word vegan because someone, somewhere, holds a trademark, has the copyright, has the exclusive rights to determine what isn’t vegan.
I felt as though this was a word that all of us owned, and all of us participated in and that all of us were working towards. You know starting out for ourselves with veganism met in our own lives and yeah it comes as a bit of a shock, it is fundamentally a little bit weird to find out that no, it’s a trademark, even if it’s the vegan society themselves they hold that trademark and that it’s a trademark that is being milked for half a million dollars a year.