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Friday 10 November 2017

Patricia Covarrubia

Mexico seeks protection for Artisans

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Nestlé, Mango, and Yuya, a Mexican Youtuber, are in the spotlight for the alleged unauthorised use and plagiarism of the traditional craft designs of Hidalgo

Due to their high quality and beautiful designs, Hidalgo handcrafts and folk art are very popular. They are at the top of the list of preparation and spinning of textile fibres and yarn manufacturing in Mexico. Together with the States of Campeche, San Luis Potosí, Tabasco and Veracruz sum the 40.3% of the national handicrafts, followed by Chiapas and Guerrero with the 23%. However, the success of this handiwork is tarnished by its unauthorised use and plagiarism, which are denounced continuously by artisans.

Nestlé was involved in this matter when the artisans Adalberto Flores Gómez and Angélica Martínez noticed that their drawings were used in a series of the hot cocoa cups ‘Abuelita’ a brand belonging to this company. Consequently, a civil process aiming the protection of the rights and interests of this artisans was initiated before the Office of Attorney-General. In this regard, Nestlé’s vice president of corporate communications affirmed that no author’s right had been violated because this advertising campaign was designed by the advertising agency JWT with the objective to promote the dissemination of traditional artistic draws and the traditions of Mexican culture. Hence, in doing so, copyright formalities and contract law were fully respected by the company and the artist who designed the campaign. Nevertheless, the final decision is in the hands of the Office of Attorney-General.
In the same way, Mango, a Spanish company commercialising clothing items, was accused of using Hidalgo designs in a jumper. Unlike Nestlé, this company accepted in a letter that the design corresponds to the embroideries of Tenango de Doria (Hidalgo), and affirmed that the jumper was withdrawn from the market.

Yuya is the last person being accused of authorised use of handcraft designs. Her new cosmetic product line uses designs from the handcraft of Tenango de Doria and Hidalgo. So far, the Youtuber has affirmed that on the recommendation of her attorneys she will no concede interviews on this matter.

Given these facts, the Deputies of the Local Congress introduced a bill for the reform of the Artisanal Promotion Law. Their aim is to provide artisans with legal tools and adequate means to claim their rights over their handcrafts and designs before national or transnational companies and natural persons. If adopted, this reform would constitute a significant advance towards the protection of artisans’ rights.

Post written by Florelia Vallejo Trujillo
Assistant Professor, Universidad del Tolima, Colombia
PhD Candidate University of Nottingham, UK

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia