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Herbalists Rejoice: “Fire Cider” Ruled Generic 

Hot chilies, garlic, cider vinegar, lemon, onion, mortar and pestle arranged on an outdoor table

Fire cider is an apple cider vinegar-based tonic made for centuries through various and indigenous traditions and sold for decades by modern herbalists. Cider ingredients vary but usually include horseradish, ginger, garlic, onions, cayenne pepper, and honey. (Kayte Young/WFIU)

After 5 years, a petition, a boycott, and a civil lawsuit, the verdict is in: the term “fire cider” doesn’t belong to a single company - it belongs to everyone.

case pitting three herbalists known as the Fire Cider 3 against Massachusetts-based company Shire City Herbals, who trademarked the term “fire cider” in 2012, went to trial earlier this year to determine if herbalists could continue to sell products by that name.

In a 40-page decision by Judge Mark Mastroianni of the US District Court of the District of Massachusetts, the court declared the defendants met their burden of proof in determining fire cider was a generic term before Shire City sought its trademark in 2012.

The Fire Cider 3 announced the verdict in a newsletter released on their website earlier this week. “We have been through the wringer and have come out stronger!!!,” the newsletter says. “We have founded life long [sic] friendships with each other and members of the herbal community.” 

The group says they are still working with the US Patent and Trademark Office to finish cancellation of Shire City’s fire cider trademark - to which, as of Wednesday night, the Shire City Herbal website still included references. 

The Fire Cider 3 newsletter also states the group’s next goal: to create a dictionary of additional generic herbal terms and an “herbal commons.”

Read More:

  • The Battle for the One, True Fire Cider (New York Times)

  • Shire City Herbals' suit over trademark heads to trial this week (Berkshire Eagle)

  • A fight over 'fire cider' pits Maine herbal folks traditions against Corporate America (WGME)

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