Hundreds Join in Demonstration Against Aloha Poke Company
Two hundred protesters rallied today against Aloha Poke Company after the company sent cease-and-desist orders to other restaurants in Hawaiʻi, Alaska and other places with the words “Aloha” and “Poke” in their names.
Demonstrators say the attempt at trademark enforcement is an “aggressive effort to assert ownership over the Native Hawaiian word ‘aloha.'”
The Chicago-based Aloha Poke Co. asserts that it is protecting the use of its business name and brand (according to the company’s social media post).
Protestors marched from the Millennium Monument to the Aloha Poke Company on Clark Street, where a rally was held during lunch. Today’s protest was part of the “Aloha Not For Sale” campaign, a week-long series of rallies that began on Friday, Aug. 10, and that will finish on Wednesday, Aug. 15.
The campaign is being coordinated by a coalition of Native Hawaiian organizations from Chicago, Hawaiʻi and Alaska. The coalition is led by Lanialoha Lee of the Aloha Center Chicago, a multi-media resource cultural center in Chicago dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Native Hawaiian and South Pacific Arts.
An online petition against Aloha Poke Company has received more than 167,000 signatures to date.
The Aloha Not For Sale campaign demands that the Aloha Poke Company:
- Make “a real apology” – “one that admits it was wrong in issuing cease-and-desist letters to business owners;”
- Retract the cease-and-desist letters sent to other businesses; and
- Rescind its trademark on the words “aloha” and “poke.”
Joining the protests in Chicago were members of the Kahele family, the owners of the poke store in Anchorage, Alaska, who received a cease-and-desist letter from Aloha Poke Company. To avoid potential litigation, the Kahele family recently re-named their store Lei’s Poke Stop.
A delegation of Native Hawaiian organizations from Hawaiʻi also travelled to Chicago to participate in the protests. Hawaiʻi based organizations attending include: the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; the ʻĪlioʻulaokalani Coalition; and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.
A sign waving was held on Friday, and an educational workshop on Native Hawaiian intellectual property rights was held on Sunday. Wrapping up the Aloha Not For Sale campaign is a peaceful rally from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at 818 W. Fullerton in Chicago.
For more information on the Aloha Not For Sale campaign, visit www.alohanotforsale.com.