Sunday, February 03, 2013

Masi designs and copyright

from w
Air Pacific have used traditional Fijian masi designs in their planes.  That's okay, but now Air Pacific has put an advertisement in a Fiji newspaper requesting copyright - trademark - of these designs which truly belong to Fiji women of the past who made their masi designs. Women's groups such as the FWRM are protesting.
from Fijilive:

FWRM says no to trademark of designs February 03, 2013 07:22:30 PMA+ A-||| 0 The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) has strongly objected the attempt made by Fiji Airways to trademark the traditional kesakesa designs. According to reports, Fiji Airways is moving to trademark 15 motifs. Executive Director Virisila Buadromo in a statement said FWRM is against any attempts to commercially trademark cultural designs which are part of the Fijian culture and have always been available to people and communities. She said the move by Fiji Airways directly contravenes national, regional and international norms and standards on protection of societal intellectual property and public good. "It is also in direct violation of various articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially Article 31."   “This is also a contravention of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW], as women in Fiji are still the primary producers of such masi designs, and therefore various economic, social and cultural rights of women would be directly and indirectly affected by such an illegal and unethical trademark system”. While the Movement believes that the use of the traditional designs and the extensive promotion the logo designer received at the launch of the Fiji Airways new look was commendable, this latest action clearly shows how Fiji Airways wants to possess and control culture. “We strongly urge Fiji Airways to withdraw their application, and urge the Administrator of Trademarks to dismiss their application if it is not withdrawn,” said Buadromo.  “We also urge relevant authorities to create public awareness on this issue which will dissuade other entities from attempting to corporatize public and cultural designs”. FWRM will be joining the many concerned individuals and organisations in writing a letter to the Administrator of Trademarks. Meanwhile, Air Pacific which will fly as Fiji Airways from next month is expected to comment on the issue tomorrow. By Reginald Chandar ----------------

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama: Stop Air Pacific trademarking 15 distinct masi motifs
1.      ------------------------------------- 
1.      Petition by   Pax Viti   Suva, Fiji
This issue is important to me because the 15 masi motifs that Air Pacific/Fiji Airways is trying to trademark belong to all the people of Fiji and the other parts of the Pacific where the motifs are used. These motifs are easily recognisable having been created by artisans in times past and they have been handed down over the generations as a cultural inheritance. The motifs are used by craftspeople, tattoists, masi or tapa makers, designers and artisans to make cultural items like tapa, tattoos, cotton material, clothing, bags etc. These items reflect our cultural heritage, have significance and are often used in cultural and traditional ceremonies. The creation of these cultural items are a source of living for many people in Fiji and the Pacific.
While the grant of the trademark to Air Pacific/Fiji Airways may be a recognition for Mrs. Makereta Matemosi, the grant would not give clear recognition to those women and artisans who came before and created these motifs. Many of these motifs are used by iTaukei women of Fiji and indigenous women in other Pacific islands for kesakesa or masi/ngatu/tapamaking  and do not belong solely to Mrs. Matemosi nor to Air Pacific/Fiji Airways, but are instead a collective cultural inheritance for the people of Fiji and the Pacific.
To trademark the designs for one company’s sole and exclusive use is grossly unfair to other artisans and masi makers, and to the human rights of the indigenous people of the Pacific.
While we applaud Air Pacific and Fiji Airways decision to use indigenous motifs in their livery and logo, we do not support its exclusive use and trademark by Air Pacific/Fiji Airways alone. These motifs were not just created by Air Pacific/Fiji Airways in the last year since the Fiji Airways airline and logo were launched, and are the cultural heritage that should be protected and for the use of all the people of Fiji and the Pacific, in perpetuity, not for the exclusive use of a single corporate entity which although 51% owned by the people of Fiji through the government, cannot be allowed to arrogate to itself the exclusive use of these motifs.
The artists and families whose cultural inheritance this is, were not consulted by Air Pacific before this attempt to trademark these designs and I stand with them and the future generations in signing this petition to protest the trademark attempt.

What else can you do to object to the trademark attempt by Air Pacific:
1. Spread the word - share the link to the petition on your facebook, twitter, tumblr and other social media platforms - encourage your friends and family to sign the petition!
2. Like the Noda Masi page to keep up to date with information on this campaign against the trademarking of the 15 masi motifs:  Keep informed and up to date with other action that is happening and what you can do further. The deadline for objections is Friday April 19th, but don’t wait, write now, talk to your relatives and friends and other interested people now. Don’t wait until April to do something – what you do today may mean Air Pacific can be persuaded to back down and withdraw their applications and the government authorities to consider the views of the population. Remember to copy your letters to, post them on the Air Pacific facebook page and post them on this page too. 
3. Write to Air Pacific to register your disapproval of their unnecessary attempt to grab ownership of the 15 masi motifs by trademarking them, when they have already trademarked the Fiji Airways logo (in the center of the masi piece by Makereta Matemosi). Call for a reversal of Air Pacific’s trademark applications since it is 51% owned by you and I, the people of Fiji. Email or write a comment on the AP facebook page - and on the Fiji Airways page You can also write to FutureBrand, the PR company doing the Fiji Airways branding for Air Pacific: write to Sally McNeill, General Manager -
3. Talk to relatives who are masi/tapa/ngatu makers: If you have an aunt, grandmother or cousin who is a masi maker, ask them about the 15 masi motifs and if they know the history and origin of those motifs, and if they use them, where they learnt it from, how long they’ve used it. Record this with notes or on audio/video. Ask them their views about Air Pacific’s attempt to own or trademark these designs and if they would be forced in future to ask or pay Air Pacific a fee to use the motifs. Make a copy of your recording and put it on the internet on youtube or facebook and send a copy of the transcript/contents to Attach a copy to your letter of objection and help your relative with a letter of objection if they would like to object to Air Pacific’s trademark attempt too.  
4. Write to the Fiji Administrator General & Permanent Secretary for Justice to register your objection. Email or PO Box 2226 Government Buildings or fax your letter to Fax: (679) 3303676
5. Write to the Fiji Attorney General who is also the Minister for Justice (the Justice Ministry administers trademarks under the PS Justice) and is also the Minister for Public Enterprises – he appoints the Air Pacific Board. Email or post your letter to P.O. Box 2213, Government Buildings, Suva, Fiji Islands. Or fax it to            +679 330 5421      
6. Write to the President who has the responsibility to unify our nation and to protect the nation and our culture – see address below. Making your voice heard means this issue will be discussed at the highest levels of government for hopefully a reversal of Air Pacific’s trademark applications since it is 51% owned by you and I, the people of Fiji. 
7. Write to the Prime Minister as Minister for Indigenous iTaukei Affairs. Recently he overruled a decision by another Minister, and it would be easier to nip this in the bud by preventing trademark status to Air Pacific, than to try to reverse the decision after the fact. Email or send your letter to PO Box 2353, Govt Bldgs, Suva or fax it to             +679 3306 034      . Copy the letter to the PS PMs’ office and PS iTaukei affairs (address below)
8. Write to the Minister for Education and Culture Mr. Filipe Bole - Minister for Education, National Heritage, Culture and Arts. Private Mail Bag, Government Buildings, Suva or fax your letter to             +679 3303511      . Copy the letter to the PS for Education (address below)
9. Write to the Minister for Women Dr. Jiko Luveni and ask her to intervene on behalf of the many women who are masi makers and craftspeople. Write to Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Allevation. PO Box 14068, Suva, Fiji. Or fax your letter to             +679 3312357       or email Copy the letter to the PS for Women (address below)

The objection appeals must be made by 19 April 2013 (19/4/13) or within 3 months from the date the applications were advertised in the Fiji Times (25/1/13). This means that the objection window period WILL END on 19/4/13.


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Wayne Benedet said...

I came to your blog today because of your apparent connection to Methodist Davuilevu Theological College. I have been following news and other developments in Fiji for some time, so your post on "Masi Designs and Copy Right" caught my interest, not only as an artist, but also because of my interest in Fiji.

My search, and my reason for coming is to try to obtain a book published by the Methodist college in Fiji called "Voices of the People" I am wondering if you can help me obtain a copy or even an e-mail address of the college.

If you can help, would you please write to me at

thank you