THE Fiji Women's Rights Movement (FWRM) has expressed extreme concern over the application made by Air Pacific Limited, to copyright 15 traditional kesakesa designs.
In a statement issued yesterday morning, the organisation stated the approval of this application would mean the disregard of certain human rights declarations.
"FWRM is against any attempts to commercially trademark cultural designs.
"It is in direct violation of various articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially Article 31," said FWRM executive director Virisila Buadromo.
Ms Buadromo said not only were these rights being threatened, but those of the women who made the masi were also at risk.
"This is also a contravention of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as women in Fiji are still the primary producers of such masi designs.
"Various economic, social and cultural rights of women would be directly and indirectly affected by such an illegal and unethical trademark system," Ms Buadromo said.
While the statement revealed an appreciation for the promotion of traditional designs, it also read that "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to withdraw their application, and urge the administrator of trademarks to dismiss their application if it is not withdrawn," she said.
On January 25 this year, the Pacific Islands Intellectual Property Services (PIIPS) advertised in the dailies 15 designs which Air Pacific Limited intended to be proprietors of — this confirmed the intentions of the airline.
"Objections to this application are required to be lodged within three months of the publication of this notice," part of the advertisement read.
Attorney-General and Minister for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said correct procedures had to be followed when making such claims.
"The application of trademark has been lodged by the Fiji Airways or Air Pacific like all other applicants for trademarks.
"Registration of trademark has a set out process and established procedures under the law which all applications are considered under," said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.
"This involves gazetting of the application and an objection period. All applications will be treated in this manner according to the law and any objections need to be lodged with the registrar of trademarks."