Indigenous women hope to trademark textiles to fight intellectual property theft

Americas Now

Guatemala is recognized throughout the world for the quality of its intricately handwoven textiles. Mayan women have used them to make blouses known as huipiles that, over hundreds of years, have come to represent an important part of their cultural identity.

The weaves have also become popular among contemporary designers who use them to create fashion accessories. But some Mayan women aren’t happy about that. Saying their designs are being stolen, they have started a legal battle to trademark their products.

But as Correspondent Harris Whitbeck reports, it’s not just a dispute about textiles. It’s a fight for women’s and indigenous rights.

Follow Harris Whitbeck on Twitter @harriswhitbeck

Trademark battle

Trademark battle

As Guatemala's traditional handwoven textile gains popularity with designers, Mayan women enter a trademark battle to protect what they say is their indigenous heritage.
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  • Inge Formenti

    Trademark not the right tool. Copyright might be, but enforcement… And there would be some very tricky issues with copyright, too

  • MontanaRed

    I really hope they succeed, whether by trademark, copyright, or patent. Whatever it takes.

  • MLH

    The huipiles (güipiles) were not imposed by the conquerors, this is a mistake in the article, the other information is accurate. There is evidence in the Mayan pre-colonial ceramics. There are formal resources were you can corroborate this information too. http://web.stanford.edu/group/arts/guatemala/discovery/weaving/people