Ecuador firm’s bid to have Gandhi drawing as rice trademark rejected

Bhasin had filed the objection petition before the Ecuadorian institute in his capacity as a private citizen of India.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:September 21, 2013 1:06 am

Upholding the rights of Indian citizens on the representation of Mahatma Gandhi as a “national symbol”,Ecuador’s top agency responsible for ensuring intellectual property rights has rejected an application from a private company in that country that had sought to make a drawing of Gandhi its trademark for selling certain varieties of rice.

The Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property rejected the application after it was opposed by an Indian lawyer,Lalit Bhasin,on grounds that the registration of the trademark would “hurt the sentiments of the general public in India who respect and revere Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation”.

Bhasin had filed the objection petition before the Ecuadorian institute in his capacity as a private citizen of India. According to a statement issued by his law firm,Bhasin had filed the opposition application after receiving information about the “clandestine registration of the name and image of the Father of the Nation in the south American country”.

In his petition,Bhasin had argued,“No one can be permitted to carry on any commerce and trade under the name and image of Gandhiji for petty monetary gains,as he was a world famous leader.”

Speaking to The Indian Express,he described the decision as a “historic judgment” as it “recognises that the names and images of our national leaders cannot be used for commercial purposes”.

In his petition,Bhasin had also pointed out that India’s Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act,1950 prohibited the improper use of certain names,including that of Mahatma Gandhi. Under the provisions of the Act,no one can use the name or pictorial representation of Mahatma Gandhi in a trademark or design without authorisation of the Government of India.

Considering the plea filed by Bhasin,the EIIP’s Trademark Registry rejected the registration. In its order issued in June,the registry said that Bhasin,as a citizen of India,had “the capacity,power and rights that all Indian citizens have for defending their national symbols,as well as the characters that form part of their culture and identity as citizens of a foreign country”.

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