The Walt Disney Co. is having legal troubles over the phrase “Hakuna Matata” from the movie The Lion King.
The entertainment giant is under siege over the Swahili phrase that means “no worries”. More than 180,000 people have signed an online petition accusing Disney of cultural appropriation for trademarking the phrase.
The petition said companies shouldn’t be able to register trademarks on long-used phrases “they didn’t invent.”
Of course, a company can register words or phrases they didn’t invent as trademarks. However, some say the dispute evokes a larger issue: some corporations aggressively enforce their trademark rights beyond their intended scope, effectively creating ownership of logos and phrases that can kill legitimate competition.
Zimbabwean activist Shelton Mpala launched the anti-Disney petition in December, calling the trademark “an assault on the Swahili people and Africa as a whole.” He said he respected Disney as an entertainment institution but called the mark “predicated purely on greed”.