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What is a trademark?

What is a trademark? There is a lot of confusion around this question in the sannyas community. This confusion has been created in part by various claims about what a trademark is and what it does. The truth is that very few people, even many attorneys, really understand exactly what a trademark is, how it works, and how someone comes to own the right to use one, so it’s very easy for people to be confused and misled. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or image that is used in marketing a product or service. The mark has to identify the product or service as coming from a single source. For example, the word Coke, a Coke symbol, or the image of a Coke bottle/can are all used to market the cola product Coke. When you see any...

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Why a trademark?

If a trademark for Osho means that all of Osho’s work by centers and individuals would have to be strictly controlled, and Osho asked that we never do that, why is anyone trying to get a trademark? Why are hundreds of thousands of dollars of the Commune being spent on an attempt to force control on centers and individuals who prefer to remain independent? These are questions only the proponents of trademarks could answer, but those proponents have offered a few explanations. One of the most common reasons given is that they want to protect Osho’s work and keep it “24 karat.” The urge to “protect” Osho is a strong one, but does Osho or His work need our protection? Did Osho want this kind of “protection”? People used to say to Osho, “I’d die for you.” And Osho...

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The Ever-Changing Story

The Ever-Changing Story To own a trademark and the right to register and license that trademark, the trademark claimant must already own the exclusive right to use the term in question as a trademark. OIF’s story as to why it claimed to own that exclusive right in 1989 has changed dramatically over the years. 1999 In its applications for registration before the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), OIF claimed that Osho had used His name as a trademark and that Osho was OIF’s “predecessor in interest” for those rights, which means that Osho had assigned rights to OIF. OIF made these statements with regard to the following applications: 75-683094 Gourishankar Meditation; and 75-683091 Nataraj Meditation April 15, 1999 Office Action Responses from Mary Luria “The meditation was created by Applicant’s predecessor-in-interest and identified with the mark with which...

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What did Osho say about trademarks and copyrights?

What did Osho say about trademarks and copyrights? Osho has pointed out in several ways that things like meditation, truth, and enlightened masters can not be owned. Just today a letter has arrived from Germany. Our sannyasins are doing a meditation called The Four Directions. The letter says, “In your commune people are doing a meditation called The Four Directions, and we have the copyright over it.” I have told Neelam, my secretary, to write to them, “Things can be copyrighted, thoughts cannot be copyrighted, and certainly meditations cannot be copyrighted. They are not things of the marketplace.” Nobody can monopolize anything. But perhaps the West cannot understand the difference between an objective commodity and an inner experience. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has copyrighted transcendental meditation and just underneath in a small circle you will find written TM — that...

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OIF Strategies and Tactics

OIF, Zurich’s claim to own copyrights and trademarks related to Osho’s work involves a lot of misdirection and attempts to create confusion. There are six basic strategies and tactics OIF, Zurich uses to create this confusion. 1. “Osho asked us.” OIF, Zurich is constantly insisting that Osho asked them to do things contradictory to what Osho asked for in His discourses. Yet, Osho’s actions or failure to act are in every instance consistent with His public statements. For example, OIF, Zurich claims Osho asked it to “protect His name.” In fact, when He changed His name to Osho in 1989, Osho did not assign His new name to OIF, Zurich or any other group like the Inner Circle, as He could have done, but publicly requested that all His people around the world start using it at the same...

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Genericness

Genericness A word or phrase can only be a trademark if it is a “source-indicator” for one company. (See What is a trademark? for details.) Before “Osho” could be a trademark, the public would have to think that all goods and services using “Osho”—books, recordings, magazines, newspapers, meditation events, meditation sessions, therapy groups, festivals—are from the same source that guarantees the quality of all those goods and services. In the case of “Osho,” this is not the case. Some products are produced by Osho International Foundation, Zurich (OIF), other products—CDs, magazines, T-shirts—are produced by others, many different services, such as events, meditation sessions, and celebration are created by centers, while sessions, groups, and events are also created by individuals. To make “Osho” look like a trademark, OIF has tried to claim that it has licensed and controlled all centers...

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