Thursday, July 14, 2005

Osho’s message is for the benefit of humanity and therefore should essentially be in the free domain

In the past few years there have been attempts to monopolize the legacy of OSHO. Words in the form of Books and Discourses of Our Beloved Master are being copyrighted and in U.S. and other parts of the world. This copyright and trademark regime has been extended to the Master’s Enlightened Art i.e. His unique signatures and even to the Meditation Techniques that he has devised. 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 copyrights and 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 Case. In the year 2000, Osho International Foundation (OIF), a Zurich based organization filed a litigation in 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 and servicemark OIF pleaded for the transfer of the domain name from Osho Dhyan mandir to OIF. ODM 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 had committed fraud on the Patent and Trademark Office by misrepresenting facts. ODM maintained that as followers of Osho, ODM has an internationally recognized right to use the term Osho. ODM also pointed out that OIF’s defective registrations of trademarks needs to be judged whether the marks at issue actually serve as trademarks. NAF decides in favour Osho Dhyan Mandir to retain the domain name 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, Zorastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism or any of the several hundred other of the world’s religions and/or spiritual movements.” Click for details of the case.

In the process of the legal battle that ensued between OIF and ODM over the domain name, the fact that Osho and His works are being registered as trademarks in the United States and in some other parts of the world concerned all Osho disciples, lovers and friends and Osho publishers. 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 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 so 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, OFI proceeded to legally oppose the registration of Osho trademarks and servicemarks and also to have the existing registrations cancelled.
Click here to see the list of trademarks on Osho registered at United States Patent and Trademark Office

On November, 2000, OFI filed its first notice of opposition challenging the application of OIF to register the servicemark of Osho Active Meditations. OFI pointed out that the mark applied for registration is generic. Calling upon Section 2(e)(1) of the Lanham Act, OFI pointed out that the term Osho is merely descriptive when used in connection of the services listed in OIF’s application as the term Osho is an apt and common term used to describe services and activities related to the teachings of Osho. The mark applied for is the name of a famous spiritual mystic, namely, Osho, and is primarily a surname not registrable under Section 2(e)(4) of the Lanham Act. OFI 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.
On December, 2000, OFI 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 (prerecorded 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 OFI’s stand on the cause to facilitate the unrestricted spread and study of Osho’s teachings OFI pointed out in the petition that OFI members include individuals and meditation centers in the United States that study and spread the teachings of Osho and use the terms “Osho” and “Osho Rebalancing” in connection with services and activities similar to those covered in OIF’s registrations and that the registration of the marks damages and will damage OFI and OFI members. And also that the OIF registered marks do not function to identify OIF’s goods and services and distinguish them from goods and services offered by others.

Osho Friends International - HistorySannyasins and Osho friends across the globe are disturbed over the attempts being made by a few people to control and monopolize the legacy of Osho for commercial benefits. An international platform was needed to voice the concerns of these individuals. Osho Friends International was born in New Delhi, India in June 2000. It is a collective effort to oppose and protest against the vested interest of some people to turn Osho into a commodity. Osho Friends International is a communion of Osholovers who have joined hands to proclaim that Osho is nobody’s copyright but everybody’s birthright.

In this endeavour, OFI is supported by Osho Friends Europe, Osho World Foundation in India, and several other meditation centres and individuals all over the world. The year 2001 witnessed the victory of Osho Dhyan Mandir in the case. Osho Dhyan Mandir, an Osho Meditation Centre based in New Delhi, India had to face litigation for using the name of Osho for its website since Osho is a registered trademark of an organization based in Zurich. This is as ridiculous as intolerable and must be opposed. Osho is not an author but a mystic; a mystic whose words are for the transformation of human consciousness and therefore should be available freely and widely.
Legal StatusOsho Friends International is a Trust created in India under the provisions of The Indian Trust Act 1882, registered with Sub-Registrar on 07/06/2000 with the following primary objectives:
· To bring the teachings of OSHO in public domain freely accessible to each and every human being in the world· To give training and education as regards the various systems and techniques of dhyan (Meditation), including Yoga or to arrange for such training and education through one or more means considered suitable for the purposes· To disseminate and spread the messages and preaching of OSHO and of the several spiritual masters and teachers of the world including Buddha, Mahavira, Nanak, Kabir through all available means· To inculcate and promote a total, human, Self-reliant and rational outlook on life· To do all such other lawful things and activities which are necessary for Nation Development and Social Welfare

What is OFI doing? 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 fiddled with! Books (The Book of Wisdom) are being edited and changes made to suit the market.
Meditation Techniques devised by Osho for instance Kundalini Meditkation, Nadbrahma Meditation, Active Meditations have been trademarked in the U.S. while for some other techniques; trademark has been applied for, with the United States Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO). As Osho himself 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 nor intended that His discourses and meditations be copyrighted or trademarked.

Osho Signatures also known as Enlightened Art are also being targeted for trademarks. This attempt to commercialize each and everything related to Osho is extremely agonizing for Osholovers all over the world.
In the past few months OFI has filed petitions for the cancellation of existing trademarks and copyrights on Osho, His Books, Meditation Techniques and Enlightened Art in U.S. It has also sought to cancel the applications pending for trademarks on Osho. Progress made shall be reported here and other websites.
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Become a member of Osho Friends International to support us in our efforts to keep Osho in the free domain, Click here to Join


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