Native Hawaiians plan protest against Aloha Poke Co.

Native Hawaiians plan protest against Aloha Poke Co.
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lanialoha Lee of the Aloha Center Chicago is helping to organize a demonstration at Aloha Poke Company's corporate office this Friday and a protest march on Monday. Activists call it cultural appropriation and believe it will be the first Native Hawaiian protest march in Chicago.

"This goes farther than just this company. It affects not just Native Hawaiians, but all of our indigenous peoples here throughout the Midwest. They too are responding," said Lee.

Lee is working with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Ilioulaokalani Coalition.

On Sunday, a fourth cease and desist letter sent from the chain to a Texas poke shop, Aloha Poke Bowl, became public. The letter like other letters demanded to stop using "aloha" and "aloha poke."

Aloha Poke Shop in downtown Honolulu is another business that got a letter. Aloha Poke Co. says it has two federal trademarks, but insists it would never attempt to own the words aloha and poke.

"If they are sending cease and desist letters to shops that where in existence before them, then they are essentially trying to bully them into giving into what they are saying in the demand letters," said John Kelly, a Hawaii attorney who specializes in intellectual property rights.

A search shows many eateries with Aloha Poke in their name around the world.

"If you look at the trademark, Aloha Poke Co. or Aloha Poke, based off of what's out there in the real world for food sevices, it's not a very strong trademark," he said.

Kelly believes other Aloha Poke eateries could have a case against the chain.

Aloha Poke Company had no comment for this story.

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