Social Media Outcry Over British Fashion Brand’s ‘Yoruba’ Trademark

Social Media Outcry Over British Fashion Brand’s ‘Yoruba’ Trademark

An image posted by cultural centre CultureTree. Twitter

British brand, Timbuktu, has been criticised for trademarking the name of west Africa’s Yoruba people. Though the retailer has had the trademark since 2015, the recent controversy erupted when an African cultural centre in London attempted to trademark the name “Yoruba Stars”, CNN reports.

The Yoruba people form one of the largest ethnic groups in western Africa, and make up around a sixth of Nigeria’s population. When Gbemisola Isimi, owner of the CultureTree centre, which teaches young people to speak Yoruba, attempted to trademark “Yoruba stars” she said she faced a challenge from Timbuktu.

“I thought it was really strange that a company would be allowed to trademark the word ‘Yoruba’, a tribe and language of millions of people,” Isimi wrote in a Twitter thread, adding, “I feel this is the height of cultural appropriation.”

Later, Isimi said Timbuktu had withdrawn its opposition to the “Yoruba Stars” trademark.

“This is not an argument about ‘appropriation’. Just the law,” the Nigerian novelist and lawyer Elnathan John wrote on Twitter, adding that “Welsh,” “Swahili” and many other words relating to a specific culture were trademarked in the United Kingdom.

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