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Registration of Hula Hālau Name Sparks Controversy

December 15, 2017, 10:02 AM HST
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Hula student Sawako Van Osdol has filed a “tradename” in Japan for Halau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea, setting off a controversy that has outraged thousands on social media.

Halau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea is the same name of the hālau Van Osdol danced for in Kane‘ohe for years—a hālau founded by Kumu Hula Kapua Dalire-Moe in 2003. She said Van Osdol did not have her consent to use the hālau name, which well-known and widely respected in both Hawai‘i and Japan.

The halau has won numerous awards at the Big Island’s prestigious Merrie Monarch Hula Festival.

Van Osdol filed the tradename papers to own the name after leaving the hula school in October.

However, Van Osdol told KITV Island News on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, that she’s only trying to protect the well-known name, not take it. She said she filed the tradename application in Japan “to prevent an unrelated third-party from registering there first.”

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Dalire Moe said she may be forced to change the name of her hula school. She is in Japan seeking legal counsel to contest the tradename filing.

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“It isn’t just a name,” Dalire-Moe told KITV. “It has meaning to me, my family, my students.”

Local Attorney Seth Reiss said contesting a trademark case that’s already been filed can be difficult, expensive and lengthy.

Dalire-Moe said she may not be able to afford the court battle, warning other kumu to consider trademarking their own halau names.

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A number of kumu hula are now in the process of doing so.

 

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