Whiting: Hon trademark taken out of context

December 16, 2010

I have lived here all of my life. I am fully aware that I did not invent the word "hon," but I did name my first restaurant in 1992 "It's a Café, Hon," which easily shortened to Café Hon. We organized and identified elements of "Hon culture" in Hampden, and others joined us to make "The Avenue" a popular commercial, artsy area.

All my company was trying to do by trademarking the commercial use of "Hon" was to protect it from merchandise knock-offs and poachers who wanted to capitalize on the commercial side of the concept enhancement work we had done. It was not meant to in any way take possession of the word or the culture from the public.

This whole situation is one of context. Our company's efforts are quite common in terms of protecting a popular business application you have developed. To think that we will make a huge amount of money from this is ludicrous and shows how an action, taken out of context and misunderstood, can cause great confusion and harm.

Because of a lot of things, we have become a society that loves to down people trying to make it. I'm a single mom who has been entrepreneurial, that's all. Do I have folks who I have dealt with who are not happy with me? Of course. You pick them up over 18 years of business. This, however, is some tumult caused by a misunderstanding of our company's motives. That is unfortunate and I am sorry that our basic assertion of commercial rights was taken the wrong way.

Denise Whiting, Baltimore

The writer is the owner of Café Hon.

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