Concerns over an attempt by the Air Pacific company to trademark 15 Fijian traditional masi motifs as part of its plan to rebrand itself as Air Fiji in June this year are now widely circulated around the social media network.
The move is slammed by many as it would “limit cultural expression in Fiji” and free use of those motifs by the people.
Last year during Fiji Independence Day the airline announced that it will revert to its old name of Fiji Airways with new logo designs of three Masi motifs namely the distinctive Teteva symbol as well as a Rova and Makare.
On the 25th of January 2013, Air Pacific submitted an application with Fiji Registrar of Trademarks and Solicitor General seeking its right for the trademark.
A petition currently staged online says that if the application is granted, “Air Pacific will then be able to license and charge for the use of these motifs as they see fit. These cultural expressions and motifs which have existed for generations and used freely by all Fijian and Pacific people including tattooists, Masi makers, craftspeople, fashion designers and artists will then be owned by a single corporate entity.”
It was reported that the new logos for the airline which largely associated elements of the traditional motifs have been designed by a Fijian local masi artist, Makereta Matemosi.
The motifs would be displayed on the company’s uniforms, the exterior of its planes, bags, livery and any merchandise it owned.
Critics support the airline’s endeavour to promote its services showcasing the Fijian culture and the use of the motifs but they do not agree with its trademark application.
Law lecturer at the University of South Pacific, Salvin Nand, told radio ABC that the process for trademark application will include the Registrar’s consideration of any objection from the public and their concerns over the rights to free use of the motifs.
Fijian cultural activists called on the wider Pacific communities around the social media network to sign their objection appeal which is due on the 19 of April.