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by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
aloha, chicago, hawaii, poke, trademark

Companies:
aloha poke



Aloha Poke Co. Rewarded For Trademark Bullying With Protests Outside Its Headquarters In Chicago

from the poke-in-the-chi dept

On the matter of trademark bullying, we typically talk about these cases as matters of legal outcomes and courtroom repercussions. Less discussed is the power of the masses in the form of protest and public shaming in order to combat trademark bullies. And, yet, that appears to be part of the equation trying to solve the irritation that is Aloha Poke Co.'s trademark bullying of actual Hawaiian poke joints out of their own culture.

You will recall that we recently discussed Aloha Poke Co., the Chicago-based poke chain that doesn't count any actual Hawaiians among its founders, firing off cease and desist letters to all manner of other joints that use some version of "Aloha" and "Poke" in their names. Most of these other entities are owned and operated by actual Hawaiians, from which both words and their cultural relevance stems. With so many entities out there using what are fairly generic terms in the realm of anything Hawaiian, the suggestion for public confusion made by Aloha Poke Co. seems spurious at best. Perhaps as importantly, if the company thought that the public wouldn't get wind of its bullying, it appears that it was very, very wrong, as protests at its Chicago headquarters have been organized.

The first protest is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday in front of Aloha Poke Co.'s corporate headquarters at 303 W. Madison St. Another one is scheduled 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 15 in front of the company's Lincoln Park location at 818 W. Fullerton Ave. A march in the Loop is also being planned for Monday, though details are still being confirmed.

Lanialoha Lee, who founded Aloha Center Chicago, is spearheading the Aug. 15 protest. She first became aware of the controversy after watching the video from Dr. Kalama O Ka Aina. "Everybody I know messaged me about it," says Lee. "It was all over my Facebook. I was really stunned." Lee hopes that the protests open "more eyes on the corporate level and at the restaurant level."

Most of those involved in organizing the protests are setting their aim on educating the restaurant as to how important these words and dishes are to Hawaiian culture, not to mention how those terms have been shared without incident across many businesses and restaurants. While that is exactly the right tone to take, it seems likely that the press surrounding the Chicago company being protested by Hawaiians and those interested in protecting Hawaiian culture will play a role as well. That will be all the more the case given some of the incendiary language choices the restaurant has engaged in when responding to the first news reports on its bullying, such as calling it all "fake news."

That kind of public exposure and shaming can have as profound and a far speedier impact than any legal proceedings. Aloha Poke is in the business of making money, after all, and this kind of exposure and coverage carries no positive public relations weight at all. If trademark bullies can be defeated in the court of public opinion rather than in actual courtrooms, all the better.


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  • icon
    trollificus (profile), 9 Aug 2018 @ 11:11pm

    Good to see

    Seldom see identity politics accomplish anything but divisiveness and excuse-making, so this is truly refreshing.

    People adopting aspects of some other culture is seldom anything other than enriching and positive. But when a CORPORATION does it, it's probably wise to assume the motives are less innocent. In this case, it's the abuse, rather than the appropriation, that's most problematic, but go get 'em anyway!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 10 Aug 2018 @ 2:36am

    So...why protest?

    I'm confused as to the purpose of a protest. Is it precisely to make noise and draw widespread attention to Aloha Poke's wrongdoings? Is there an implied threat in it, a threat of boycott by all of these people and everyone who hears about the protest if Aloha Poke don't start behaving themselves?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bugs Bunny, 10 Aug 2018 @ 2:47am

    daffy duck

    said it best "it is to laugh," or was that Dante?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    gene_cavanaugh (profile), 10 Aug 2018 @ 8:08am

    Court of Public Opinion

    So, instead of going to court to stop the administration from illegally deporting asylum seekers, we should have "the base" simply "get rid" of them?

    Is this America, where the rule of law matters, or Nazi Germany?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2018 @ 8:21am

      Re: Court of Public Opinion

      This is an article about trademark bullying.

      The events surround the actions and public reaction to a trademark bully.

      The court of public opinion in this case would threaten the bottom line of the trademark bully.

      None of this has anything to do with, or says about the policies that are or should be adopted, with regard to asylum seekers. That is an entirely separate discussion that should be discusses on its own merits, not shoehorned into discussion on something that has nothing to do with it.

      Please try to keep your comments relevant, it will be better for everyone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 10 Aug 2018 @ 8:56am

      Re: Court of Public Opinion

      They (the Chicago company) is doing something lawful but stupid.
      Pointing out that this is stupid, via articles (like this one) and protests makes the company aware that they are doing something that may cost them business. As well as letting potential customers know that the company might be engaged in something they disapprove of.
      Seems like a reasonable alternative to lawyering up. "Let the free market decide" only works if people can make informed choices.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Aug 2018 @ 1:10pm

      Re: Court of Public Opinion

      *blinks slowly*

      Did you maybe pull the bathrobe belt a little bit tight this morning... you seem to have a minor brain glitch.

      Be careful, don't end up like David Carradine.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Professor Ronny, 10 Aug 2018 @ 9:58am

    Company behavior matters. The public cares. Who knew!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Justa Thinker, 10 Aug 2018 @ 5:05pm

    Justa Thought

    Side note:
    Now that Lean Cuisine has put out a "farmers market" pizza, I'm predicting they'll try to trademark the term as others have and sue the snot out of people who run farmer's markets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kinetic Gothic Tank, 13 Aug 2018 @ 7:38am

    Poke You Say?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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