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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 since “Osho” was first used in 1989. OIF has a few problems with that argument (aside from the problem that “Osho” isn’t used as a trademark). (See Abandonment and Quality Control for a discussion.)

In the US no known center agreed to be licensed by OIF and some refused to sign the Letter of Understanding (which is not a trademark license). A similar situation exists in all the other geographical areas. Also, since no one can dominate or monopolize a religious teaching, new centers related to Osho’s work could always open without permission from OIF (or anyone else). So, OIF’s claim to permanently control all work related to the teachings of Osho could never be true.

In addition to being generic, a term that describes the goods or services involved instead of identifying the source of those goods or services is descriptive. Trademarks in the US were cancelled on both grounds.

For the legal arguments made about genericness in the US case see: See Trial Brief of Opposer/Petitioner pp. 27–37; Reply Trial Brief of Opposer/Petitioner pp. 4–12.)



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