Who owns aloha? Hawaii eyes protections for native culture

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii lawmakers are considering a resolution calling for the creation of legal protections for Native Hawaiian cultural intellectual property.

The move comes after a Chicago restaurant chain owner shocked the island state by trademarking the moniker “Aloha Poke.”

The owner sent cease-and-desist letters to similarly titled cubed fish shops around the country demanding that they change their names, including a downtown Honolulu restaurant and a Native Hawaiian-operated restaurant in Anchorage.

The resolution calls on state agencies and Native Hawaiian organizations to form a task force to develop a legal system to “recognize and protect” Native Hawaiian cultural intellectual property and traditional cultural expressions.

It notes native cultures elsewhere in the world have adopted protections that might be models for Hawaii.

The task force would send lawmakers recommendations and any proposed legislation in three years.

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