Hakuna matata and colonialism

The Lion King is launched in 1994 by Disney. To prevent parasitic use, the company registers the film title and logo as a trademark. Also songs titles from the film score, like “Hakuna matata”, are trademarked (for T-shirts). With the upcoming relaunch of the film this year, Disney is suddenly involved in a riot. The petition website <change.com> demands cancellation of the 1994 mark (the petition was signed more than 180,000 times). The trademark means 'no problem' in Swahili language. By this trademark registration, Disney would claim ownership of a piece of African cultural heritage. The petition’s initiator sees this as insult and disrespect for the African population.

The Lion King is launched in 1994 by Disney. To prevent parasitic use, the company registers the film title and logo as a trademark. Also songs titles from the film score, like “Hakuna matata”, are trademarked (for T-shirts). With the upcoming relaunch of the film this year, Disney is suddenly involved in a riot. The petition website <change.com> demands cancellation of the 1994 mark (the petition was signed more than 180,000 times). The trademark means 'no problem' in Swahili language. By this trademark registration, Disney would claim ownership of a piece of African cultural heritage. The petition’s initiator sees this as insult and disrespect for the African population.

From a trademark law perspective, Disney does nothing wrong. With the registration, the company wants to prevent the sale of clothing by third parties under this trademark. No claim is made on the expression itself. That nuance is completely lost in the online discussion. As is the fact that the trademark has already been registered 61 times by third parties around the world, in the hope of being able free ride on the success of The Lion King. As a company, one should be aware of the sensitivities in the registration of images and expressions that belong to the cultural heritage (such as ALLAH, JESUS and the Night-Watch etc.). Sometimes it is better to choose an alternative. (Source image: TMDN.org)

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PURE - MENTOS

MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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