Nupeat was the original name of our patented peat-free product and apparently the folks running the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) didn’t like that very much. Soon after some successful, well-publicized, growth trials at a major Midwest university and numerous mentions in the National press, a fax arrived from the executive director of the CSPMA implying it would be in my best interest to change my product name.
My understanding of their position was that PEAT was a protected descriptor of Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss and any growing media using a derivative of that four-letter word would trigger legal action. I’ve kept that faded, thermal transfer paper, as a token to remind myself not to allow a cartel of environment destroying peat extractors to dictate the direction of my company. It’s also a badge of honor that my unfunded, pre-commercialization, social enterprise spooked them enough to take notice.
PittMoss™ replaced the earlier name after countless brainstorming sessions with the company’s first employee, Matt Knapp and project friends Vince Angellotto and Dave Miller. Sometime, in the coming months, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will likely issue an official registration for PittMoss™, which I like even better in describing our product and tweaking off the CSPMA. They never said anything about PITT or MOSS.
We’ve achieved our trademark and other legal hurdles through the help of Bruce Knapp, Matt’s dad, and a cadre of his legal colleagues, which he’s reined in to assist us at little or no cost. Many people have thrown in to help us with all aspects of the commercialization. It seems like someone has always been there to assist with accounting, insurance, engineering, public relations, graphic design and even financing, like the generous support of the Idea Foundry of Pittsburgh.
With all that help though, I can definitively state that no one, absolutely no one, has offered more “grease up to the elbows” help than Steve Guffey, the fourth generation owner of Johnston The Florist. He’s granted us a two-year comp lease at his greenhouse operation, conducted commercial crop trials, been instrumental in building our facility and been our chief evangelizer. He allows us to use his trucks, tools, equipment and on and on and on. For his efforts we signed an agreement in January making him a partner in PittMoss™ Development Company, LLC.
It’s wonderful to know so many people are in our corner and yet, there are the others. A few months back the Executive Director of the CSPMA left a message in our http://www.pittmoss.com inbox that stated “Your website has come the attention of a member of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA)”. He continued by asking for our location so they could send us some “updated information” about peatlands. I looked at that old thermal fax from years ago and replied with the address of Bruce Knapp’s Law Firm. “Send the information to my attorney” I directed, withholding the choice PEAT-free, four-letter words I had in mind for him.
Nothing has arrived so far but we’ll keep you posted.