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Debate Over 'Hon' Trademark Heats Up Again

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The outrage continues after the owner of Hampden's Cafe Hon copyrights the word "hon."  She says she did it for business reasons. 

Gigi Barnett explains why the debate is heating up again.

"Hon" is a term of endearment Baltimore knows well, but the debate over who owns the word is brewing again.  It comes just as Honfest--an annual block party tribute to Baltimore's old school beehives and boas--starts next weekend. 

Back in December, protesters picketed Honfest founder Denise Whiting's stores.  They were upset that she has gotten a copyright on almost every play on the word.

"This is our word.  This is our city and now it's owned by one person," said Carolyn Roberts.

Whiting said then and maintains now that trademarking "hon" is something any good businesswoman would do.

"'I'm a very hardworking entrepreneur and I love Hampden and I love Baltimore and I've spent a lot of time and energy doing whatever I can that's positive for the city," Whiting said.

On the list: anything with the "hon" logo, political or religious statements and even cat eye glasses are out.

"Right now, the sticking point is the glasses.  Just because she has the right to do it, sometimes just because of the right to do something doesn't mean [that] you should do something," said Lou Catelli.

Even business owners who have shops here in Hampden must pay Whiting $100 if they want to set a table outside during Honfest.  Folks who organized last year's picketing say they'll be back next week to picket again.

Last year, thousands of people joined a Facebook group protesting Whiting's trademark.

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