Trademarking the Name of God? Huh! – Part 3

This post was first published on 8th September, 2014.

In continuation to the previous post, we shall now have a look at other important cases where the issue of whether or not one can monopolize the name of the Creator by trademarking the name of God is discussed.

In order to prevent unauthorized use of the picture of diety of Attukal Devi and description of “Sabarimala of Women / Streegalode Shabharimala (in Malayalam)”, Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust has secured registration for the image / picture of diety as well as the descripion of Sabarimala of Women through registration by Application Numbers 1420800 and 1420799 (Check the status of the Applications here on the IPINDIA WebSite). Currently these applications are registered and granted protection. In 2009, Kerala High Court’s Division Bench initiated a suo motto proceeding against the decision of Trademark Registry in granting registration to the aforementioned Trademark Applications.

The proceeding was initiated by the bench based on a petition faxed by an individual, wherein he contended that the use of religious symbols could not be equated to trade for said trademark certification was intended for commercial advantage and the action of the temple authorities sent a wrong message that a place of worship was a “business outfit”.

Trademark Act requires a connection between proprietor of trade and the services offered through trade, as per Section 2(zb). The main issue in this case, was whether Temple Services, Social Services, Welfare Services And Cultural Activities under Class 42 for which the registration was sought by Attukal Trust, is legally right or not as they are acts of faith. Also discussed was the issue of deceptive similarity, of the registered mark where the image is a graphical representation of Kannagi who is believed to be the guardian of Madurai City. These issues are still not answered, however.

The next post will bring about more interesting cases where the question that God’s name can be trademarked or not is looked at from different angles.