New Delhi(PTI): No one can claim the names of holy books and scriptures like Ramayana or Quran and use them as trademarks for selling goods and services, the Supreme Court has ruled. “There are many holy and religious books like Quran, Bible, Guru Granth Sahib, Ramayan, etc. The answer to the question as to whether any person can claim the name of a holy or religious book as a trademark for goods or services marketed by him is clearly ‘No’,” a bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and R K Agrawal said.
It also said that allowing names of gods or holy books to be trademarked could offend “people’s sensibilities”.
The apex court ruling came on an appeal filed by Bihar- based Lal Babu Priyadarshi, who had sought to trademark the word ‘Ramayan’ to sell incense sticks and perfumes, against the order of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB). “The word ‘Ramayan’ represents the title of a book written by Maharishi Valmiki and is considered a religious book of the Hindus in our country. Thus, using exclusive name of the book ‘Ramayan’, for getting it registered as a trademark for any commodity cannot be permissible under the (Trade and Merchandise Marks) Act,” the apex court observed in its 16-page judgement.
The court also objected to pictures used by him on the incense stick packets and said “…the photographs of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman are also shown on the label, which is a clear indication that he is taking advantage of Gods and Goddesses, which is otherwise not permitted.” Priyadarshi had submitted before the court that through extensive use, wide advertisement and the excellent quality of the products, the trademark ‘Ramayan’ and the carton in which the products are sold had become distinctive in such a manner that use of a similar trademark by any other person would cause confusion and deception in the trade and amongst the public. He claimed prior use, averring that he was using the Trademark since 1981.
The court, however, observed that “if any other word is added as suffix or prefix to the word ‘Ramayan’ and the alphabets or design or length of the words are same as of the word ‘Ramayan’, then the word ‘Ramayan’ may lose its significance as a religious book and it may be considered for registration as a trade mark.”