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Introduction

Introduction

“I want my sannyasins to inherit my freedom, my awareness, my consciousness. And each sannyasin has to be my successor, has to be me. There is no need for anybody to dominate. There is nobody for anybody to dictate to. They are on their own. If they want to be together they can be together. Out of their own freedom, it is their choice and their decision. If they want to move free they have all the rights to move free.” OSHO

Introduction

Soon after Osho left His body in 1990 there have been attempts have been made to monopolise the legacy of OSHO. The Master’s Enlightened Art, His unique signatures and even the Meditation Techniques were applied for Trade Marks in USA and other countries. An Enlightened Mystic of the 21st century, Osho’s message is for the benefit of humanity and therefore should essentially be in the free domain, and available to the world without being fettered by trademarks.

The extent of the trademark and copyright regime can be comprehended from the various legal cases and threats imposed on meditation centers and Osho lovers for using the term Osho. One example of such a monopolization of Osho is the Osho Dhyan Mandir www.oshoworld.com Case. In the year 2000, Osho International Foundation (OIF), a Zurich based organization filed a litigation in the National Arbitration Forum (NAF – American Court of Arbitration whose jurisdiction is internet related conflict) against Osho Dhyan Mandir (ODM) based in Delhi, for using the term Osho in their website. Claiming to be rightful owner of Osho and His works and calling upon the registered trademarks OIF pleaded for the transfer of the domain name www.oshoworld.com from Osho Dhyan Mandir to OIF, Zurich. Dhyan Mandir in its strong response pointed out the fact that Osho is not a valid trademark for materials by or regarding Osho and with support of evidence proved that OIF, Zurich had committed fraud on the Patent and Trademark Office by misrepresenting facts. Dhyan Mandir maintained that as followers of Osho, ODM has an internationally recognized right to use the term Osho. The Dhyan Mandir also pointed out that OIF’s defective registrations of trademarks needs to be judged whether the marks at issue actually serve as trademarks. NAF decide in favour Osho Dhyan Mandir to retain the domain name oshoworld.com.

The Arbitrator observed that “To grant OIF’s request for relief would be to permit virtual monopolization on the Internet by Complainant of any domain name which includes the name of a great spiritual teacher and leader. While making no judgment on the relative merits or validity of the world’s religions or spiritual movements or any leader thereof, this Arbitrator finds that permitting this would be as improper as doing the same with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism or any of the several hundred of the world’s other religions and/or spiritual movements.”

In the process of the legal battle that ensued between OIF, Zurich and Osho Dhyan Mandir over the domain name, the fact that Osho and His works are being registered as trademarks in the United States and in other parts of the world concerned all Osho disciples, lovers and friends. To voice the concern of all Osho lovers and friends, an international platform was needed. Osho Friends International (OFI) was formed with the objective to resist such efforts to grossly commercialize, control and monopolize the vision of Osho. The effort is to assert that nobody owns the trademark of the name Osho. Mystics like Buddha, Jesus, Heraclitus, Lao Tzu, Dogen, Nansen, Basho, Jelaluddin Rumi, Kahlil Gibran, and Kabir are not brands or trademarks neither are their writings are copyrighted. Osho being a link in the long chain of enlightened individuals who have tried to raise the consciousness of humanity, cannot be trademarked nor his discourses, meditations and music copyrighted by anyone. Supported by several meditation centers and friends of Osho from all over the globe, Osho Friends International is an effort to share the legacy of Osho with as many people as possible, without payment of royalties or copyright charges and that a few people do not hijack this invaluable heritage. Message of Osho is for the mankind. In many of His discourses he has specifically mentioned that there should be no copyright on His words and that the purity of his message is to be maintained.

With these objectives, Osho Friends proceeded to legally oppose the registration of Osho trademarks and servicemarks and also to have the existing registrations cancelled.

In  November, 2000, Osho Friends filed its first notice of opposition challenging the application of OIF to register the servicemark of Osho Active Meditations. The mark applied for is the name of a famous spiritual mystic, namely, Osho, and is not registrable. Osho Friends pointed out OIF’s lack of evidence to prove ownership rights and also that OIF has committed fraud on the trademark office by not disclosing the fact that Osho is the name of a well known spiritual mystic.

In December, 2000, Osho Friends filed another petition to cancel the trademarks registered under Registration No. 1,815,840 for Osho (education books and printed teaching materials in the field of religion and philosophy), Registration No. 2,174,607 for Osho (providing religion, philosophy and science information via a global computer network), Registration No. 2,180,173 for Osho (pre-recorded audio and video tapes in the fields of education, religion, philosophy and science) and Registration number 2,322,901 for Osho Rebalancing (books and printed materials for education purposes in the field of religion and philosophy). Introducing Osho Friends’s stand on the cause to facilitate the unrestricted spread and study of Osho’s teachings Osho Friends pointed out in the petition that Osho Friends members include individuals and meditation centers in the United States that study and spread the teachings of Osho.

Osho Discourses Edited

Osho Friends International is committed to the cause of bringing Osho in free domain so that the message of the Master is available freely and extensively. Osho wanted His message to spread throughout the world and encouraged His Sannyasin publishers to publish His books. No royalty was ever demanded or permission sought for publishing these books. Osho was particularly clear about maintaining the purity of His words. Explicitly the Master had conveyed that no change was to be made in His words and during one of His discourses had said, “Don’t try to improve upon it. Leave it as it is. Raw, wild, illogical, paradoxical, contradictory, repetitive, whatsoever it is, leave it as it is!” Of late, it has come to light that Message of Osho is being edited! Books (for example, The Book of Wisdom) are being edited and changes made to the original discourses.

Meditation Techniques devised by Osho for instance Kundalini Meditation, Nadabrahma Meditation and Active Meditations were trademarked in the U.S. while for some other techniques; trademark has been applied for, with the United States Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO). Osho has said, “You don’t understand what meditation is. It is nobody’s belonging, possession. You cannot have any copyright. Perhaps if your country gives you trademarks and copyrights on things like meditation, then it will be good to have a copyright on stupidity. That will help the whole world to be relieved… Only you will be stupid and nobody else can be stupid; it will be illegal.” It is quite clear then, that He was neither interested in nor intended that His discourses and meditations be copyrighted or trademarked.

Osho Signatures also known as Enlightened Art were also being targeted for trademarks.

Osho Friends‘s efforts resulted in TTAB sustaining its opposition and  petitions for cancellation. In an unanimous verdict by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on 13 January 2009, it has established that Osho and His works cannot be trademarked. In response to the opposition lodged by Osho Friends International (OFI) India, the Board ruled that Osho’s name is used to describe the teachings and meditation techniques of the mystic Osho and the spiritual and meditative movement that grew up around him. Since “Osho” does not identify only one Osho group as the source, it cannot serve as a trade mark owned by Osho International Foundation, Zurich. As a result defendant OIF can not foreclose others from utilising the term OSHO.

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