I loved his books and he was a great writer.
He died 10 years ago today, on my 40th Birthday so I will always
From the Baltimore Sun, March 19, 1991
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[FROM THE BALTIMORE SUN, MARCH 19, 1991]
Electronics Giant Finally Beats a Woman Named Sony
(BY CINDY HARPER-EVANS)
It's been four years since `Big Sony vs. Little Sony' headlines
appeared in local and international papers, highlighting the unseemly
controversy between small Baltimore restaurateur Sony Florendo and
giant Japanese electronics manufacturer Sony Corp.
But to Mrs. Florendo, owner of two Philippine-Asian restaurants and a
catering operation bearing her name, the battle she fought in the
U.S. District Court just a few blocks from her main office on Park
Avenue is still very real.
Today, Mrs. Florendo must take the name `Sony' off the signs on her
restaurants at Harborplace and Owings Mills, her banquet hall on
Belair Road and her main office downtown. She says she is still
struggling to decide the new name of the restaurant she has owned
`Oh, I don't know. Maybe it will be S.R. Florendo or maybe just S.
Florendo,' she said yesterday, her voice choking at the thought of
changing the restaurant's name from `something that has been mine
since I was a child.'
The name change is part of the deal Mrs. Florendo reached with Sony
Corp. in 1987 to drop the $2.9 million lawsuit it had filed against
her for alleged trademark infringement, unfair competition and
deliberate confusion of consumers.
Originally, Mrs. Florendo's restaurants were called `Sony's.' In
response to the court order, she initially changed the name to `Sony
Florendo's.' She had until today to get rid of the `Sony' nickname
altogether from all of her signs and advertising.
Mrs. Florendo has not yet ordered new signs and a new letterhead for
her restaurants or decided how they will be designed.
`She is trying to put off the inevitable--to think about other
things,' her husband, Gerardo Florendo, said.
Sony Corp.'s hard stance with a small entrepreneur is not unusual; the
company makes a habit of defending its trademark aggressively. It has
won infringement cases against businesses that sell everything from
chocolate to bicycles.
But the Japanese manufacturer's actions have had a big effect on Mrs.
Florendo, 54, who was born Juana Evelina Resurrecion Robles in
Cabanatuan, the Philippines, a few years before World War II began.
The hardest times in her life `all have to do with the Japanese,' Mrs.
Florendo said, her head shaking in disbelief and her eyes welling with
tears as she begins to tell a story she says she has never shared
When she was 4, Mrs. Florendo's father was taken prisoner by Japanese
soldiers. He was picked up at a restaurant in Manila while he was
having lunch, she said.
Her father was interrogated and tortured for 10 days, Mrs. Florendo
said. She said he was about to be killed but was released after he
was able to prove to his captors through a newspaper article that he
was a judge.
`My grandfather had his spinal column smashed by Japanese and had to
live as an invalid for the rest of his life. Cousins were slapped so
hard on the side of their faces by the Japanese that they lost some
of their hearing,' Mrs. Florendo said.
At the age of 5, she had her `first negotiation with the Japanese,'
Mrs. Florendo recalled.
The Robles family owned one of the two pianos in their town. One day
Japanese soldiers came and took the Robles' piano back to their
`I was able to convince a soldier to come and pick me up so I could
still practice the piano,' Mrs. Florendo recalled.
`That time I was able t negotiate, but with Sony Corp., there was no
compromise because it had to do with money,' Mrs. Florendo said.
Several years ago, Mrs. Florendo said, she wanted to deal with her
hurt over the Sony Corp. experience by starting an organization to
help small entrepreneurs engaged in expensive legal battles.
`It was not possible for me to fight Sony because each day my husband,
my son and I spent away from my restaurant, it meant something was not
getting done or we had to pay someone to take our places. That is very
expensive,' Mrs. Florendo said. In addition, she said, the legal fees
But Mrs. Florendo said she gave her idea up.
`It was very painful for me to keep remembering my experience. It made
me very angry, though I try not to be,' she said.
`But one thing I've learned from all this is that when you are honest
about what you do, you can survive even the biggest fall,' she said.
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