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Fiji moves to fight Bula Trademark

 

Sep 28, 2018 12:16:31 PM

Fiji moves to fight Bula Trademark In light of recent news that a businessman in Florida has trademarked the word ‘Bula’, the Fijian Government is laying the legal groundwork to contest the move on multiple fronts.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has confirmed that preparations are underway to lodge necessary documentation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and says the matter will also be raised with the World Intellectual Property Organisation. 

“Government was, along with Fijians and friends of Fiji around the world, both shocked and outraged to hear of this blatant case of heritage-high jacking,” he said.

“We would never give permission for anyone- particularly someone outside of Fiji looking to profit- to effectively claim ownership of ‘Bula’, a word so deeply-rooted in our national identity that it has become synonymous with Fiji itself.”

Sayed-Khaiyum said the idea that a single person could control the use of a word so dear to the hearts of Fijians is offensive, tone-deaf and wrong.

“We will fight this trademark with every power international law affords.”

He added that previous governments were fully complicit in allowing foreign interests to get away with many trademarks dear to our people, including the name of our country.

“Those days- the days that Fiji sits quietly while corporate and personal interests try to take advantage of our ‘Bula Spirit’-are over.”

Ross Kashtan, who runs a kava bar in Florida, trademarked the word ‘Bula’ this month and this can prevent other businesses using the word ‘Bula’ in bars and cafes selling kava and other drinks.

The US Patent and Trademark office lists 43 companies which have trademarked the word ‘Bula’.

16 of the trademarks are listed as ‘active’ and sell products ranging from backpacks and stuffed toys to dietary drinks and healthcare products.

By Reginald Chandar

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