Whether any person can claim name of a religious book as a trade mark ?
The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday 27 October 2015 in a judgment titled as Lal Babu Priyadarshi Vs. Amritpal Singh held that 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 trade mark for his goods or services marketed by him is clearly ‘NO’.
A bench comprising of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R.K. Agrawal observed that moreover, the appellant has not been able to establish that the word “ RAMAYAN ” for which he has applied the trade mark had acquired a reputation of user in the market inasmuch as, the Court finds that there are more than 20 traders in the city using the word “ RAMAYAN ” as a mark for the similar products and also in different parts of the country.
The sole question for consideration before the Apex Court is whether the registration of the word “ RAMAYAN ” as a trade mark, being the name of a Holy Book of Hindus, is prohibited under Section 9(2) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999?
While dismissing the appeal the Apex Court held that the word “ RAMAYAN ” represents the title of a book written by Maharishi Valmiki and is considered to be a religious book of the Hindus in our country. Thus, using exclusive name of the book “ RAMAYAN ”, for getting it registered as a trade mark for any commodity could not be permissible under the Act.
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.
However, in the present case, the Court finds that the appellant had applied for registration of the word “ RAMAYAN ” as a trade mark. The Court also finds that in the photographs, after adding “OM’s” to the word “ RAMAYAN ”, at the top and in between “OM’s and RAMAYAN ”, the sentence, “Three Top Class Aromatic Fragrance”, is also written.
Thus, it is not a case that the appellant is seeking the registration of the word “OM’s RAMAYAN ” as a trade mark. Further, from the photographs, the Court finds that the photographs of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman are also shown in the label which is a clear indication that the appellant is taking advantage of the Gods and Goddesses which is otherwise not permitted.
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