Hon trademark dead...or is it?

Ghost of Hon-troversy
(Sun file photo)

After celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay and his show "Kitchen Nightmares"visited Cafe Hon last year, Denise Whiting agreed to kill her trademark of the word "Hon."

She did as she said. And yet, mention of the trademark appears in literature for this year's Honfest, which is coming up in June.

Here is the passage, verbatim, included on Honfest 2012 material that was distributed to potential festival vendors:

NOTE: All items sold at HONfest 2012 must be legal and within the family-oriented nature of the event. Prohibited items include counterfeit designer clothing or handbags, tee-shirts, cat eyed sunglasses, weapons of any kind, including knives; or other items which infringe on a registered trademark. This includes the HONfest, Cafe HON, HONtown and HON trademark; you may not sell products bearing the festival's name or logo without prior written permission -- this includes previous years tee-shirts. Should you be caught with counterfeit items, the police will confiscate your inventory and eject you from the festival and you will be barred from attending future festivals.

There's no question that Whiting no longer has control of the word "Hon." And just to be sure, Sun reporter Steve Kilar, who wrote about her ending the mark earlier this year, checked today and it's indeed goner than gone.

Whiting was out of town on Friday. However Lisa Davis, director of Honfest, said it was a mistake that the festival paperwork included that paragraph. Whiting, she said, was extremely clear that no mention of the trademark appear in the material. Davis said she accidentally included it on some of the online material.


"It happened because I'm a technotard," Davis said, sounding very upset. "Denise did not in any way want people to think she hadn't relinquished the trademark."

Those who spent the better part of last year protesting Whiting because of the trademark -- saying she was trying to own a part of Baltimore's culture -- immediately pounced on the discrepancy after someone, perhaps a vendor, pointed it out to them this morning. After not making a peep against Whiting since Ramsay left in February, the No One Owns Hon, Hon Facebook page posted. One person quickly scoffed, "did anyone really think that she would change?"

Whiting insisted -- tearfully -- to Chef Ramsay that she indeed had changed. In fact, Insider just reported yesterday that "Kitchen Nightmares" is likely coming back to Baltimore to check on how Cafe Hon has fared since the show's makeover last fall. The episode about Cafe Hon aired in February.

It's worth noting that exactly a year ago, before Honfest 2011, Hampden merchants were seething over similar rules from Whiting, prohibiting what they could sell during the festival. No cat-eye glasses seemed particularly galling -- an item also verboten this year according to the glitchy literature.

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