Petition for Disney to give up "hakuna matata" trademark

Originally published at:


Yeah… it’s Disney, they have a morbid fascination with trademarks and extending them indefinitely, this will fail.


As long as you aren’t using the phrase in relation to the movie I don’t think the Trademark has much standing. That first shirt is going to get a C&D if Disney’s lawyers see it, but the other two shouldn’t have trouble.

That’s not to say that the Lawyers won’t try to bully producers even if they aren’t likely to win in court on the assumption that they can make it too expensive for the producers to fight it, but legally they don’t really have a leg to stand on. If someone did fight back they would probably drop the complaint rather that risk an embarrassing loss and precedent.

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Don’t worry about it.


ηακονα ματατα



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Proper neocolonialist capitalism dictates making a charity up that benefits Zimbabwean children or some such thing and donating pennies for each item sold to it completely removes all guilt while giving a tax write off.

I’m surprised Disney hasn’t tweeted about finding one yet.


Trademarks are intended to last indefinitely. They stay valid so long as they stay in use and don’t become genericized.

What Disney has previously done is fight hard for extension of the copyright term. Extending the duration of protections for their characters. And keeping their early material from entering the public domain. And in the most recent flush of potential copyright extensions. Disney bowed out. And is finally allowing their earliest works and characters to enter the public domain.

Trademark is a different system than copyright. And I don’t think even the hard core IP reform people are arguing that trademarks need to expire. Is there a reason why the “Ford” trademark should expire? Is there utility in other companies being able to label their cars Fords?

@jandrese would seem to have it right. The phrase and it’s use this way vastly predate Disney’s trademark. So that trade mark should be invalid except for specific uses associated with The Lion King. A work still well within the current copyright term, that Disney has never had to fight to keep from the public domain.

Doesn’t mean that it is that limited, or that Disney can’t try to enforce trademark over other uses.


I’ll be printing up a bunch of

kuna matata

t-shirts then. No violation, no worries. Go on, google translate it. What could go wrong?

Well then maybe

hatuna makata

should be totally cool. As it says on the tin.

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Disney swore!! *shocked


s’all good, man!


And so long as they can show that they’ve been defending that trademark, which usually involves lawyers firing out threat letters to anyone even slightly close to their trademark.

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I remember trying to find this unsuccessfully in the past. But parody songs of 1994 will not be lost.

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One of the sneaky loopholes they’ve exploited to do this was to incorporate a short clip from “Steamboat Willie” into the animated logo for Walt Disney Animation Studios, thus turning the film itself into something they can assert trademark protections for.



There was me thinking it was just a cute little callback to their past. Your slightly Disney-sinister point is probably closer to the truth.


At least the petition knows the difference between a trademark and a copyright.


Though I suppose HBO will bust my ass for that one.

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Probably some of each. For all their commercializing megalomania the company really does employ people who genuinely love animation.

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I just saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse last night. Thoroughly fun flick, but one of the funny lines was when Spider-Ham quips “that’s all, folks” and Spider-Man says “wait, can he say that? I mean, legally?”


No problem, mon.