Legal News: Soap Loaf Trademark

Last week it came to our attention that a private handcrafted soap company had successfully trademarked the term “soap loaf”.

This word mark was published for opposition by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on February 5, 3013. The owner has been enforcing the mark on various sites (e.g. eBay) and having handcrafted soapmakers and suppliers that use the term “soap loaf” removed for trademark violation.

Photo credit: southernfried from

The term “soap loaf” is a generic term that has been widely used in the handcrafted soap industry for decades and the trademark of this term creates an issue for the HSCG Members selling products using it. Both soapmaker (also known as handcrafter) and supplier members of the HSCG sell products using “soap loaf”, including both soap and molds, so this has far reaching effects in the industry.

On Monday, September 30, the HSCG Board of Directors made a decision to file a “Petition to Cancel Registration” with the Trademark Trial Appeal Board on behalf of the membership.

While we were in the process of compiling data and preparing our filing with the attorney we received notice that the company had voluntarily canceled the registration of this trademark. It is no longer necessary for the HSCG to take legal action and those of you that were using the term “soap loaf” to sell can now resume doing so without the fear of repercussions.

Why Handcrafted Soap?

You’ve unpacked your soap, set up a killer display and the first person who walks into your booth picks up a bar and asks, “Why handcrafted soap?” Luckily, there’s a brochure for that. Of course your soap is awesome, but we don’t ever want to leave you tongue-tied for a response in the heat of the moment.

One great benefit available to members of the HSCG is the “Why Handcrafted Soap?” brochure. This brochure helps explain the difference between handcrafted soaps and commercially prepared soaps; it also touts the advantages of handcrafted soap and shows full-color pictures of a variety of handcrafted soaps.  You can purchase the full color brochures for a very reasonable price or print them out yourself. One great feature about the brochure is the space on the back panel where you can add your contact information which helps the customer get back in touch with you when they are ready to order (or re-order)!

Log in and go to Marketing Tools > Handcrafted Soap Brochure or go directly to the link here to get to all of the details. From this page, you can download a copy of the brochure or order a pallet-load to be printed and delivered right to your doorstep. They’ll also be available at this year’s annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, if you’re lucky enough to be joining us.

What’s your favorite response for “why handcrafted?!”

Share Your Voice: US Labeling

The HSMG has submitted a petition that needs your voice.

In mid-2012, the HSMG submitted a citizen’s petition to the US FDA requesting a change in the law to make a PO box acceptable on cosmetic product labels in lieu of a street address.  The FDA confirmed receipt in August and has been collecting public comments on the petition prior to issuing a response, expected in the first quarter of 2013.

MLK March 2Photo by Flickr member Jeffrey Smith. Used under a Creative Commons License

Current FDA regulations state that the business name and address must be on the product label. The business street address is required unless the business is listed in a printed city directory or telephone directory, in which case only the city, state and zip code are required on the product label.

Why You Care

The issue of being required to put your street address on your product labels has been brought to our attention many times over the past year. The general consensus is that this requirement poses an inconvenience and a safety risk to those with home-based businesses.  Due to safety concerns and changes in the ways consumers search for business info, we believe allowing a PO box on cosmetic labels to be good common sense while mitigating some of the security risks that soapmakers undertake today in publishing their street addresses on product labels.

Share Your Voice

Here’s where we need your help.  The FDA is still collecting comments on this petition, so your thoughts and real-life examples will help determine the future of our PO box request.  Go to the petition here and click “Comment Now!” to submit your comment.

Find out more:

>>For an in-depth explanation, see Anne-Marie’s post on the Soap Queen blog.

>>Read the petition in full here.

Let the FDA know how you feel about the current labeling requirements!