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Lal Babu Priyadarshi v. Amritpal Singh - (27 Oct 2015)

Title of religious text not ordinarily registrable as trade mark


Intellectual Property Rights

The Supreme Court left little room for interpretation in its ruling against registration of a trade mark in ‘Ramayan’ to be used on packaging for incense sticks, perfumes and the like. It replied resoundingly “NO”, to the question of whether a person could claim trade mark in the title of a holy text. However, it added that with suitable suffixes or prefixes, the title could be made to lose its religious sanctity and thus become registrable. The Court also noted, perhaps wryly, that with over 20 traders in Patna alone using ‘Ramayan’ in some form or other for the same products, its discussion on registration was moot, given the word had “become public[i] juris” and common to trade.

Whereas prominent religious text as a trade mark may at first appear forbidden legal territory, it was very much a case of the Gods striking fear in the heart of the law makers just as much. The Standing Committee which submitted reports on the Trade Marks Bill, 1993, chose to take a passive approach in ‘cleansing’ the intellectual property system of religious marks. Fearing “chaos in the market”, the Committee had instead recommended removing registered marks on receiving complaints, and not registering such afresh.

Relevant : National Bell Co. v. Metal Goods Mfg. Co. (P) Ltd. and Anr. MANU/SC/0369/1970 Mumbai International Airport Private Limited v. Golden Chariot Airport and Anr. MANU/SC/0746/2010 Section 9 Trade Marks Act, 1999 Act


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