"I was almost positive that you can't be that broad with a trademark. Like, she could keep any other restaurant/food establishment from using "Hon" in their name, but not anything using the word "hon". It's supposed to keep people from using the trademarked item in a way that confuses people - i.e. if you went into "Hon's Place" thinking it was "Cafe Hon" because you knew it was a restaurant famous for the use of "hon", that could be damaging to Cafe Hon's reputation / take away their business. But "Hon's Books" wouldn't create the same issues and thus she shouldn't be able to claim damages or prevent them from using "hon", especially for a word that's so ubiquitous in the area. No judge should uphold that shit."
And yet she was able to force a store (not a restaurant) called "Thanks, Hon!" to change its name (it later had to close) and moreover, got the Maryland Transit Authority to pay her for an ad campaign to encourage people to buy their transit passes (they wanted to use the slogan, "Get yours, hon!")
(You can find similar stories using Google. The Baltimore Sun is a good place to start.)
I don't know what the intricacies of the legalities were, or what the stipulations of trademark were, but she/her representatives were passing out C&Ds to ANYone essentially printing the word as part of a marketing campaign or personal branding, and succeeding
in getting people to pay her. Maybe she shouldn't have been able to, but the reality is she certainly did. Repeatedly.
And that's why we were mad at her, hon.
As an aside, I've heard business has improved there since they filmed at the end of October and she revoked the trademark. In part, I'm sure because people out of curiosity want to see the changes to the menu, and don't feel the need to boycott anymore. I'd been a few times before I was aware of the trademark controversy... first time (years before the trademark issue happened) it was really good. The next couple times were so-so -- it was alright, but you could find better elsewhere, and each time was worse than the last. The last time I went was right at the height of the controversy (I heard about it a couple days later), and I do remember ordering something really common, something they should have had plenty of, and being told they were out of it (I wonder now if it suffered the curse of the 86s). So I think what they said in the show was true: the trademark issue itself and her refusal to let go of it like a dog with a bone was adding to her own instability and leading to her mistreat the staff and make poor decisions. The restaurant was going more and more downhill the more people hated on her and the more she refused to listen and budge from her position, let alone take any personal responsibility for her actions or mistakes.
I am curious to see for myself what it's like now. On the other hand, it's on the Avenue in Hampden which has tons of awesome restaurants, so it's hard to give up the other opportunities there (probably also a factor when it wasn't doing well). Cafe Hon plays up the John Waters' style kitsch that tourists look for (and it's fun, I have nothing wrong with it--and I'm actually glad Ramsay didn't tone down Cafe Hon's image when he made it over because it is what makes it stand out in that neighborhood), but I think locals tend to prefer some of the other places that cater to different crowds. I wonder if it will continue to do well now that the trademark wars are over, or if people will pass it over for nearby places after their curiosity (if not their hunger) is sated.
Edited by Death Quaker, Feb 27, 2012 @ 4:05 PM.