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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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First Use in the Marketplace

First Use in the Marketplace Osho International Foundation, Zurich (OIF), claims that it has used Osho as a trademark since 1989, but in the US, at least, most of the uses of “Osho” by OIF referred to the person Osho (i.e. as the author of a book or speaker in a recording) or used Osho generically to describe products or services related to the teachings of Osho. In the US case OIF attempted to use products designed after the case was filed in 2000 as evidence to prove trademark use, but only products from 1989–90 or the very early 1990s would be relevant to use of “Osho” as a trademark. If OIF did not begin using “Osho” as a trademark until 2000, any rights it once might have had were already abandoned before that trademark use began. In the...

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Abandonment and Quality Control

Even if some person or entity was able to prove first use of a trademark in the marketplace for a good or service, if other people began using the same term to describe their independent goods and services at around the same time and continued to do so for several years, any rights created by the first use would be abandoned. At some point OIF realized that any claim it might make to trademarks had been abandoned because all Osho centers and many individuals had been independently using “Osho” for at least nine years. OIF had to recreate history to try and make it appear that the centers had not, in fact, been independent during that time. Around 1998 OIF or Global Connections in Pune had sent out Letters of Understanding (LOUs) for centers to sign. Either at that...

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Fraud

Fraud In many places even a valid trademark can be cancelled if the applicant committed fraud by saying something it knew or should have known was untrue or failed to provide the agency involved with information that might have affected the agency’s decision. In the case of alleged trademarks for Osho, OIF has to claim that “Osho” is used as a trademark and that OIF owns the trademark and has the exclusive right to use it in the marketplace, but neither of these things is true. In the US case OIF had told the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that it had received an assignment of trademark rights from Osho and referred to Osho as OIF’s “predecessor” for trademark rights. It later turned out that OIF had never received an assignment of any trademark rights from Osho....

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Religious Freedom

Religious Freedom There are laws protecting religious freedom in all the countries and areas where OIF has attempted to claim ownership of trademarks for “Osho.” These laws prohibit anyone from monopolizing or controlling religious teachings against the wishes of the people involved. In past centuries there were state religions and everyone was obligated to belong. Now, in the countries involved here, people have the freedom to choose. No one, for example, can monopolize Christian teachings. An individual can choose to be a Catholic, a Lutheran, a member of the Church of Christ, or hundreds of other choices. Anyone who wants to can start his or her own church or group that interprets the Christian teachings. No one can prevent that, because religious teachings are free to all. Osho spoke strongly about His right to speak about Jesus, even though...

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