National culture, identity, and intellectual property rights are at the core of this disturbing question. In the United States of America, the answer is both yes and no. The basic manual for the United States Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO), within the Department of Commerce, states seemingly contradictory information. In the case of Aloha Poke Co., which came under fire for their efforts to enforce their trademark on “Aloha” and “Aloha Poke”, it became obvious that the answer given by the USPTO to the above question is a mind boggling yes. However, according to the USPTO’s own materials and website, this approved trademark runs afoul of their own restrictions on multiple levels.
The USPTO claims that they examine “every application for compliance with federal law and rules” and yet the approved trademark awarded to Aloha Poke Co. seems to contradict or at the very most only provide a lukewarm environment for that company’s basis for legal actions against others. Below are just a few of the contradictions that can be found.
Generic and/or Descriptive Contradiction:
Foreign Term Contradiction:
According to the USPTO’s Official Manual, federal registration of trademarks “is governed by the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. §1051 et seq., and the Trademark Rules of Practice, 37 C.F.R. Part 2.”, a highly relevant portion of which is shown below.
Bringing Beliefs or National Symbols into Disrepute:
Many Citizens have expressed outrage at the condoned violation of the core value that Aloha is, for the benefit of one American company. Those who follow Kamamaluula News have sent in so many important questions, maybe none so important as, how did this even get approved? Darker questions have also surfaced, if the United States Patent and Trademark Office is “fee funded” can they truly be unbiased on incoming applications?
In many ways, this trademark paradox runs parallel to our nation’s own situation. Hawaii is not part of the United States, but they hold our country in an illegal occupation, imposing their laws on us with impunity. The material and financial damage the “Aloha” and “Aloha Poke” trademark is doing to our citizen run businesses would seem to be rubber stamped by the US Government. Citizen led protests and petitions continue.