GILBERT, Ariz. (AP) – Trademarking the names of restaurants peddling Asian or Asian “inspired” foods can lead to clashes over ownership and cultural appropriation.
A recent lawsuit against an Asian-Mexican fusion restaurant shows the struggle between protecting a brand and picking a name that instantly invokes a culture. Panda Libre in suburban Phoenix faces a court challenge from the chain Panda Express, which has owned the trademark for “Panda” for Chinese food services since 2001. Other efforts have faced fierce online backlash. In 2018, Chicago-based Aloha Poke Co. sent cease-and-desist letters to poke restaurants with “aloha” or “aloha poke” in their names. That includes places selling the raw fish dish in its birthplace of Hawaii.