Michael B Jordan criticized for launching J’ouvert Rum

Written by on June 21, 2021

Black Panther star Michael B Jordan is being accused of cultural appropriation for creating a rum called J’ouvert. Jordan’s girlfriend Lori Harvey posted the rum on her Instagram stories on Saturday congratulating him on the launch of his new venture.

Many Trinbagonians took umbrage at the use of the word J’ouvert by someone who is obviously not from Trinidad and Tobago and accused Jordan of “Columbussing” and cultural appropriation. A trademark application for the word J’ouvert for use on the product has been unearthed on the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s website, furthering the outrage.

J’ouvert is an integral aspect of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago where it originated. French for “Opening of Day”, it is a symbolic pre-dawn event introduced by ex-slaves after emancipation that today kicks off Carnival celebrations in the twin-island and has been exported around the globe as one of the popular Carnival concepts.

Dr. Justin Koo, a lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Intellectual Property, explained to Loop that trademark protection is territorial so trademarking of a name is limited to use in that country unless it belongs to a mega-brand such as Nike. Koo said while J’ouvert is common parlance to T&T, it is not common in the United States so there is nothing stopping anyone from trademarking the name for use of a product there. He revealed that there are about six or seven other applications with the word J’ouvert abroad. “It does not stop descriptive use. In the US, however, no one can brand their rum J’ouvert without infringing the brand,” he said.

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