Mambo is the internationally renowned surfwear brand whose logo is a farting dog. Mabo is the name of the celebrated campaigner for Aboriginal native title, Eddie Mabo. Now Eddie's son, Malcolm, wants to launch his own clothing range - and Mambo is not happy.
The company has opposed Malcolm Mabo's application to trademark his family name and logo, arguing that it could lead to the two brands being confused. It is also concerned about his plans to include beach and surfwear - Mambo's speciality - in his range.
Malcolm Mabo says, though, that his clothes will be very different from Mambo's, known for their irreverent and zany images including comic representations of Jesus.
He plans to feature the work of indigenous artists, including his own designs, and hopes to generate income for struggling Aboriginal communities including Palm Island, off the north Queensland coast, where he lives.
Mabo is a name that resonates throughout Australia and beyond. Eddie Mabo's fight led to a landmark High Court decision in 1992 which quashed the notion that the continent was uninhabited before white settlers arrived. He was a Torres Strait Islander, and his son's proposed logo - a traditional Torres Strait headdress and a shark's jaw - reflects that heritage.
Malcolm Mabo was "pretty surprised" to learn about Mambo's objections, he said yesterday. "It's my name; I can't change it." He said he thought the idea that he should not produce surfwear was "pretty silly", given that "we are saltwater people, we come from the islands".
The managing director of Mambo, Angus Kingsmill, said the dispute had been blown up by the media, and he was confident of resolving it.
The two sides plan to hold a telephone conference next Tuesday to discuss the company's concerns.
Kingsmill, part of a private consortium that bought Mambo from its founders three years ago, pointed out that the company had always espoused indigenous causes.
At the time of the High Court decision, it produced a T-shirt with the slogan "100 per cent Mabo". "We are sensitive and supportive and respectful of the great Mabo name and its place in Australian history," Kingsmill said.
Brian Arnold, chief executive of the North Queensland Small Business Development Centre, which has invested in the Mabo venture, believes it will provide much needed employment and business opportunities. "The Mabo name is powerful, and we can leverage off that. It stands for strength and perseverance."