Friday, December 21, 2018

Disney accused of cultural appropriation for patent on song from ‘The Lion King’

A petition calling for Disney to release its trademark on the words “Hakuna Matata” has attracted more than 35,000 signatures from people calling it cultural appropriation of the Swahili language.

The phrase, which translates to “No problem” or “no worries,” was made popular by the 1994 film The Lion King and has since re-emerged due to the upcoming live-action remake of the immensely popular children’s musical.

Although Disney applied for the trademark in 1994 and was approved in 2003, an activist from Zimbabwe is arguing that a culture’s language can’t and should not be patented.

Shelton Mpala launched the petition calling for Disney to release the trademark it has on Hakuna Matata likening it to “colonialism” and “robbery”.

“The appropriation of something you have no right over. Imagine, if we were to go that route, then we owe the British royalties for everyone who speaks English, or France for when we speak French,” the petition reads. “Join us and say NO to DISNEY or any corporations/individuals looking to trademark languages, terms or phrases they didn’t invent.”

At the time of writing, the petition has garnered more than 42,000 signatures and continues to grow.

Since its debut in 1994, The Lion King has become an incredibly popular venture for Disney, which includes a hit Broadway play, toys and clothing, games and several film sequels and spin-offs.



Anonymous said...

The protection is probably for the performance.

Stan B said...

The protection of "Hakuna Matata" is for commercial properties and purposes, and does not prevent anyone from using the language in Swahili, or in any other country than the United States, in order to generate financial gains.

The purpose of the trademark is to prevent non-Disney entities from trading on the popularity garnered by the movies and other intellectual property of Disney. I can't open the "Hakuna Matata Grill" in Florida, for example, without infringing on Disney's trademark. I CAN open the "No Worries Grill" in Florida, because you can't trademark individual ENGLISH words or phrases which have not acquired a distinctive, secondary meaning (which is why "Lite" beer is trademarked, but "Light" beer isn't.)

No significant section of the American population would even know what "Hakuna Matata" means without its association with the Lion King. That it is Swahili is going to be news to some people - because that is never mentioned in the movie.

Without such protections, Disney would argue that they suffer dilution of their brand, as unrestricted trade using their "catchphrases" by outside interests in an unscrupulous or denigrating way could lead to damage to their brand.

Tamaa the Drongo said...

Way too many whining little snowflakes finding something to whine about all day long WHINE WHINE WHINE

C. S. P. Schofield said...

Before Disney is called to address this, they should be called to account for the degree to which THE LION KING appears to be a plagiarism of JUNGLE EMPEROR (known in the US as KIMBA THE WHITE LION) by Osamu Tezuka. That is a far more serious case of 'Cultural Appropreation'....but of course it is appropriation of Japanese Culture and Asians are not Privileged Minorities, so to the Progressive Left it doesn't count.

Anonymous said...

Cultural Appropriation, another invention of the left to try and control people and thoer activities, especially if they are conservative or capitalist in nature. Imagine what would happen if there were objections to Africal people wearing western clothing, eating western food or enjoying western methods of travel.

Tamaa the Drongo said...

Then there is still SONG OF THE SOUTH which they have yet to release on DVD