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Petition against 'Hakuna Matata' trademark

PostPosted: December 18th, 2018, 4:48 pm
by Panpardus

Coinciding with the hype around the remake, some Kenyan social media think-pieces have realized that Disney trademarked the phrase "hakuna matata" back in 1994, and someone decided to launch a petition in the hopes of getting the company to give up ownership of the phrase. To be clear, the trademark isn't for the song but the actual phrase itself, which does strike me as very odd to say the least, and I can see why the petition organizers aliken it to "colonialism and robbery".

You can check out the petition (maybe even sign it if you're so inclined) here: ... una-matata I don't think anything will actually come of this, but as of the time of posting there are currently over 37,500 signatories.

Just another thing to add to my love-hate relationship with The Lion King. But what do you think?

Re: Petition against 'Hakuna Matata' trademark

PostPosted: December 18th, 2018, 5:52 pm
by Elton John
Why would Disney trademark the phrase and not the song?

I’m not on Disneys side this time. It reeks of greed.

Re: Petition against 'Hakuna Matata' trademark

PostPosted: December 19th, 2018, 1:50 am
by TheLionPrince
Before The Lion King, I doubt too many people in the western world heard of the phrase, hakuna matata. Now because of the success of the song and the popularity of the film, the term has market value and Disney is smart to capitalize on it. It's completely legal to trademark a catchphrase if it's in association with a product, brand, or service, but I do understand the complaints about it being cultural appropriation.

Re: Petition against 'Hakuna Matata' trademark

PostPosted: December 21st, 2018, 4:31 am
by Panpardus
This article gos into the legal and ethical framework around the situation in more detail, for anyone interested: ... ing-remake

Also, I was wrong in my initial assumption regarding the timeline of events; apparently Disney was granted the trademark rights in 2003, though they applied for it in 1994/5. (I suppose that still leaves the raising of the issue in East Africa to someone over there just recently finding out about it and deciding to take action. For the record, the petition currently stands at nearly 118,000 signatures.)

It's also not the only time Disney's done this, as the article points out: they tried to trademark the phrase "Dia de los Muertos" ahead of the marketing for Coco but were successfully shut down in that attempt by public outcry, though the official reason for the dropped attempt is because they changed the film's title from Dia de los Muertos to Coco. (But also of course it helps to not alienate a large chunk of your prospective audience when your movie is based in their culture.)

Re: Petition against 'Hakuna Matata' trademark

PostPosted: December 21st, 2018, 5:39 am
by DGFone
From my understanding, Hakuna matata isn't even all that popular in Swahili, even before The Lion King came out - the phrase "Hamna shida", 'there are no worries', is what is used far more often.

Sure, hakuna matata then became popular because of tourism and it's good for business, but I can see how Disney will want to trademark it.

NOT THAT I THINK THEY SHOULD. For one, they are still trying to trademark a phrase from another language. Sure, it might not be the common variant, but it's still just language. Then comes the legal framework for hakuna matata: people use that phrase all the time. What are they going to do? Sue people whenever they say it? What if someone wants to make a movie called Hakuna Matata? Unless it's about a lion cub who grows up to reclaim his throne from his tyrannical uncle, it will be a very interesting lawsuit indeed.

Re: Petition against 'Hakuna Matata' trademark

PostPosted: December 21st, 2018, 6:42 am
by Elton John
There’s a videogame on the PS3 titled ‘Hakuna Matata’ in some regions. In America the game was called Afrika.