The famous Kenyan phrase ‘Hakuna Matata’ has now been taken away and going forward one might sued or forced to pay to use it.
Disneyland has been granted a US trademark over the phrase under the registration number 27006605 for use on clothing.
‘Hakuna Matata’ is a Kiswahili phrase which loosely translates to ‘no problem’ or ‘no worries’.
Records from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) indicate that The Walt Disney Company legally owns the popular Swahili phrase ‘Hakuna Matata’.
The trademark means the phrase cannot be used by any other organization or on merchandise by any other company unless with prior approval from Disney.
The ‘Hakuna Matata’ phrase was popularized in 1982 by a Kenyan band Them Mushrooms in their popular song Jambo Bwana.
In January, Maasai Intellectual Property Initiative (MIPI), a non-profit organisation, took legal steps to protect the cultural heritage of the nearly 2 million Maasais living in Kenya and Tanzania after Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer collection featured the Maasai shuka, which they later patented.
The Maasai are not the first community to seek to protect and profit from their brand.
Aboriginal Australians have, after years of struggle, established protocols that mean they are now routinely paid fees when companies use their image or ancestral lands for commercial or marketing.