A joint Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R.K. Agrawal of the Supreme Court of India has given judgment for a dispute that arose from Patna based trader, Lal Babu Priyadarshi’s attempts to register his incense sticks and perfumeries in the name of the holy ‘Ramayan’.
The Court has held that names of holy or religious books cannot be registered as trademarks for any goods or services. The judgement referred to the Eighth Report on the Trade Marks Bill, 1993 submitted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on April 21, 1994 in this regard.
“The name of a religious book, cannot become the subject matter of monopoly for an individual... There are many holy and religious books like Quran, Bible, Guru Granth Sahib, Ramayan, etc., to name a few. The answer to the question as to whether any person can claim the name of a holy or religious book as a trademark for his goods or services marketed by him is clearly ‘no’.” laid down the Supreme Court.
Justice Agrawal, who wrote the verdict, observed that it is not permissible for the word ‘Ramayan’ to be used as a registered trademark for any commodity as the word itself represents a book written by Maharishi Valmiki, which is considered to be a holy book for Hindus.
The Court further observed that the trader used pictures of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman in the product labels, which according to the court is “clear indication that he is taking advantage of the Gods and Goddesses which is otherwise not permitted”.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee opined that any symbol relating to Gods, Goddesses or places of worship should not ordinarily be allowed registration as a trademark for any products. The Committee, however, did not change the trademarks already in existence in order to avoid possible chaos in the market.
The government is expected to initiate appropriate legal action should someone issue a complaint against any particular trademark on the basis of religious sentiments being hurt.
Thumbnail Image: Ashwani Kumar