Ecuador firm wants to sell rice in the name of Gandhi

Company has already said that it would stop using the Mahatma’s photo on the logo.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Published:October 10, 2011 2:03 am

An Ecuador-based company has attempted to use the name and photograph of Mahatma Gandhi for marketing its rice. But an Indian lawyer has challenged the move before the Trademark Office of Ecuador. The case is scheduled to come up for hearing tomorrow.

According to Lalit Bhasin,who is also president of the Society of Indian Law Firms,the owner of the Ecuadorian company,Valverde Munoz,applied for grant of trademark for the name and label of “Arroz Gandhi” (Arroz means rice).

“Somebody from a law firm in Ecuador informed me about the attempt… I immediately filed an application before the appropriate authority to prevent this company from commercially exploiting Mahatma Gandhi’s name. The company has already said that it would stop using the Mahatma’s photo on the logo. But it is insisting that it is within its right to name its rice after Gandhi,” said Bhasin.

In his application,Bhasin has asserted that Munoz’s action is unlawful and hurts the sentiments of Indians. He has said the company’s attempt is part of a design to use the Mahatma’s name and image for petty commercial gains since he is revered around the world.

Under Section 3 of Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act,1950,nobody can use the name of Mahatma or his photo unless permitted to do so by the Government of India — something that has never been done for a commercial venture till date. However,what makes Bhasin’s case very important is the fact that this law applies only to India and to Indian citizens outside India.

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