Trademark Musings

Thoughts on trademark issues by Laura Winston

Who Knew “Hon” was so Important to Baltimore? Trademark Registration Sparks Protests.

A rather surprising headline in The Baltimore Sun caught my eye recently – “Demonstrators protest `Hon’ trademark in Hampden“.  A protest over a trademark? 

It turns out that people will protest a trademark when they believe it takes away their right to their own local culture.  If you’re from Baltimore, then you may know something I didn’t – that “hon” is a local expression in Baltimore that refers to a stereotype of local women originating in an earlier era – according to Wikipedia,  “Between the 1950s and 1970s, it was common to see working class local women dressing in bright, printed dresses with out-dated glasses and beehive hairdos.” 

I’ve quickly brushed up on the history of this important term and how it came to be a trademark, to the chagrin of native Baltimoreans.  Denise Whiting opened Cafe Hon in 1992 and later started using it on “Honfest” and on various items for sale.  She obtained a trademark registration for the CAFE HON logo (pictured above) in 2005, and on the word HON in 2007.   Apparently it took at least 3 years for the news of the registrations to reach Baltimoreans, because this protest took place last week.  Has broadband not made it to Baltimore yet?

According to the Sun article, about 50 people showed up to protest in front of Whiting’s store, Hontown.  They held up signs that said things like “You Can’t Trademark Our Culture Hon” and my personal favorite, “Honicide: Life on 36th Street”.  Nobody threw any rocks and bottles, but it was a trademark protest nonetheless.

January 2, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. My Aunt Zelda from Baltimore wore the kind of dresses and glasses that you mentioned. She also had the beehive “do” in the 1950’s. Your term for people from Baltimore is not the same one she used. One day she complained to me about relatives who lived in New York and whom she disliked because they used the term “BALTIMORONS”

    Comment by EDDIE WINSTON | January 8, 2011 | Reply

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