Fallston Group

Building Strengthening & Defending reputations

Did He Cross the Line, Hon

How quickly can a seemingly non-violent protest become a threat to public safety and personal property?

Recent controversy revolving around Baltimore’s iconic, Café Hon, has made it more apparent how easily that line can be toed.

Café Hon owner Denise Whiting’s decision to trademark the word ‘Hon’ to protect her business and brand, caused an uproar when some felt trademarking the word was capitalizing on a Baltimore tradition—as well as trying to create proprietary rights around the city’s colloquialisms.

The debate over ‘hon’ took a more serious turn during Honfest—a summer festival and local tradition run by the Café.

Steve Akers, a fervent protestor of the brand, allegedly opted for a more aggressive approach—harassing and scaring patrons by shouting slogans into the crowded Café Hon during the festival. Other allegations against Akers include trespassing into Whiting’s businesses, harassing employees, and cyber-bullying.

The sharing of strong opposing opinions always can become heated, and as the ‘Hon’ controversy illustrates, in these situations it is not always clear where to draw the line.

How far is too far?

That question is now in the hands of a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge who has already made a first move to impose a temporary restraining order.

We’ll keep you posted.

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