A joik is a style of Sami singing associated with shamanistic religion, which is traditionally sung a capella and with few or no lyrics.
Lars Gunnar Marken, daily leader at Sørsamisk Kunnskapspark, the South Sami knowledge park, which teaches the South Sámi dialect to ethnic Sami people, said he could not understand why the US food and café chain saw the name as a threat.
“I find it hard to see how the Southern Sami, who number only 1,000 in Norway, and who have a language that is on the Unesco list of languages that are about to die out, should be a threat to such a worldwide chain,” he told Norway's state broadcaster NRK.
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In its complaint to the Norwegian Patent Office, the US chain argued that the school was “free-riding” on the qualities associated with its brand.
In a statement sent to the broadcaster, it said that the attempt to use Hard Joik Café constituted an “unreasonable exploitation of Hard Rock Café's reputation and distinctiveness as a global name”.
It was therefore “free-riding on the brand's accumulated goodwill…built up through marketing campaigns and investments over 50 years”.
Marken said that his school, which is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Education, had registered the name hoping it would make learning the dialect more fun for students.
“We want to renew ourselves. We have received some input from young people that they want a more modern framework in the dissemination of their own culture,” he said.
Knut Andreas Bostad, section chief in the Norwegian Patent Office, said that his section had judged that few people would have trouble separating Hard Joik Café from Hard Rock Café.
“We found that the brands could not be confused,” he said.