The Maasai Name Isn't Free

The African tribe wants to start receiving royalties for the unauthorized use of its name and image on products.

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The Maasai Warriors cricket team poses after a match on June 6, 2013. (Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

The Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania are looking to take back their name and culture by seeking royalties for the unauthorized commercial use of their name, Bloomberg reports

According to the news site, approximately 10,000 companies around the world are profiting by selling products using the tribe's name, six of them earning an estimated $100 million in annual sales over the last 10 years. These companies sell everything, according to Bloomberg, "from auto parts, to hats, to legal services." 

The problem is that the Maasai people benefit little, if at all, from this unregulated use of their name and culture. They're seeking legal claim to the rights of their identity in order to receive their share of licensing revenues and, in turn, improve their community. 

Their argument, however, may be lost in actual legal proceedings, which have not been launched. According to Bloomberg, they've never really made an effort to protect ownership of their culture until now. However, there is precedent for big corporations to recognize a tribe's legal rights to its name and pay fees for its usage. 

Read more at Bloomberg

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