Last week, the clothing company, Mambo, agreed to cease opposition proceedings against Malcolm Mabo (the son of Eddie Mabo of Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1).

Malcolm Mabo, a Palm Island artist, is planning to start a clothing company to promote authentic indigenous art and employment, under the brand, “Mabo”, and sought to trade mark the name.  When Mambo found out, it instituted opposition proceedings, contending that the brands would be “deceptively similar”. 

Mambo’s managing director, Angus Kingsmill, stated that while Mambo did not want to “…stand in the way of Malcolm and his new venture, we wanted to establish guidelines about logo usage.”

However, after Mambo’s actions elicited public outrage and sent the World Wide Web into a fervour, Mambo agreed to cease its opposition proceedings.  Quoting Dennis Denuto from the movie, “The Castle”, Mr Kingsmill stated it was “…the vibe of the thing,” it was the right thing to do.

Mambo is going even further and will re-release a 1992 T-shirt displaying the words “100% Mabo”, which commemorated the High Court’s 1992 decision, with all proceeds going towards Malcolm Mabo’s business venture.

This story raises interesting considerations for industry as to the balance to strike between public opinion and concerns for the “greater good”, versus protecting intellectual property and enforcing rights. 

Perhaps it will just need to be determined on a vibe by vibe basis.