Indians in Panama accuse Nike of counterfeiting

Indians in Panama accuse Nike of counterfeiting


Panama (AFP)

Kuna Indians in Panama on Tuesday accused the giant Nike of illegally "copying" traditional designs on a model of sneakers whose sale was eventually canceled by the American equipment manufacturer.

According to community lawyers, the design of these sports shoes - a limited edition of the Air Force 1 model - is inspired by "molas", a richly colored, traditional art of the Kuna people.

The latter, who accused the US giant of infringement of intellectual property, claimed that the sale of these sneakers, which were to be marketed on June 6 at a price of 100 dollars a pair, be suspended.

"We apologize for the inaccurate representation of the origin of the design of the Nike Air Force 1" Puerto Rico "2019. As a result, this product will not be available" for sale, reacted a spokesman for the company questioned by AFP.

According to the Sneaker News site, Nike said the design - colored on a black background - was a tribute to Puerto Rico and represented the Coqui frog, emblematic of the Caribbean island, also American territory.

The leaders of the company "must recognize that the + mola + that appears on the sneakers comes from the Kuna people," Belisario Lopez, a cacique, told a press conference in Panama City.

According to him, this case is not an isolated case. "Thousands of traditional designs and know-how of indigenous peoples are hacked by multinationals."

"We have already sent a letter of protest to Nike, but we have not received a response," said lawyer Aresio Valiente.

The Kuna Indians live in Panama and Colombia, the majority on the San Blas Islands, on the Caribbean coast of Panama.

"For the Kuna, the mola is like a flag, there is a real cultural identity that is expressed around the mola.It is a strong element of the identity", explained to AFP Monica Martinez, professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona, ​​which has been studying the Kuna people for about twenty years.

"There are debates in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and indigenous peoples are demanding action, but nothing is done," she said.

? 2019 AFP

ref: france24