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Chicken-Fried News: #StopEdmond?

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Can a hashtag be trademarked? According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the answer is yes.

That brings us to local magazine Edmond Active Tweeting this message:

“Thanks to everyone who is interested in #ShopEdmond! Please note, the hashtag is for our paying advertisers, as we own the trademark for marketing & advertising. Thanks for your understanding.”

Many area residents were not so understanding.

Chris Johnson (@okcjohnson) replied, “This might be the worst marketing since the #TacoTuesday fiasco with @chefrp.”

Yes, in the far-flung past of 2010, Wyoming-based fast food joint Taco John’s sent a cease-and-desist letter to Oklahoma City’s Iguana Grill and chef Ryan Parrott, telling them to stop using “Taco Tuesday” to promote the weekly $1 taco special.

Indeed, Taco John’s owned the nationwide trademark on the business-specific, sales-related phrase, so the OKC business decided to stop using it.

Although Edmond Active might hold trademarks for “Shop Edmond” and “Around Edmond” for marketing and advertising purposes, for several hours Friday, the always-feisty local Twitterati took over the hashtag to respond to the publication’s “cease and detweet” demand.

Geoff Roughface, @groughface, said: “Even Edmond’s hashtags are too pretentious for me. #ShopEdmond.”

@OklaEarthquake also responded: “I’ll be honest, I do #ShopEdmond. The dude I buy my weed from is from there.”

The magazine then upped the ante by blocking several users.

Steve’s OKC Central, @stevelackmeyer, responded: “Hey @EdmondActive — since you blocked @briOKC I am blocking you back. I will shop OKC this weekend and not #shopedmond.”

Edmond Active owner Sherri Hultner said she was baffled by the response. She registered trademark #12321313 with the Oklahoma Secretary of State in 2011 based on an advertising section in her magazine.

When a local franchise consignment store owner used #ShopEdmond in advertising, Hultner said she tried to resolve it privately. When that didn’t work, she posted the message publicly to protect the trademark using language she got from a lawyer.

“I’m just a small business owner,” she said. “This is what I do to make a living.”

Hultner posted a public apology and explanation Sunday on Facebook.

“A very classy, understandable response. Your followers stick by you!” @Erica_Smith responded on Twitter.

Print headline: #StopEdmond?

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