Everyone involved in the question of center independence has options. If some people want their center to become essentially a franchise of OIF, Zurich, they have every right to do that. No one is obligated to follow Osho’s suggestions to be independent. That’s why He called them suggestions, after all. It’s equally true that people who don’t want their centers to be franchises have a right to choose independence. No center that wants to be independent can ever be legally controlled by OIF, Zurich. OIF, Zurich cannot control your center unless you allow it. This is essential to remember.
One issue that always comes up in discussions of this topic is OIF, Zurich's pattern of intimidation, either by threatening to bring lawsuits to claim right they don’t own (and know or should know they don’t own), or by arranging with the management of the Pune center to have people banned from the Pune center. In the US the crime of extortion is defined as demanding or obtaining property from another through the use of threats, coercion, or intimidation. If OIF, Zurich or individuals in OIF, Zurich are using the threat of banning to try and coerce people to give up valuable legal rights in their nonprofit businesses, that may be a crime. It may also violate other laws related to civil rights, religious freedom, and unfair interference with business relations.
It’s essential that this behavior be carefully documented so that appropriate legal action can be taken against both entities and individuals involved. In the questionnaire section there is a questionnaires covering several forms of intimidation. It’s very important that anyone who has been banned, or threatened either with a lawsuit or with banning, send in the details of actions or threats so that the whole picture of intimidation practices can be demonstrated. If possible, give both the sannyas and legal names of individuals involved in the intimidation.
This is not just hypothetical; three of the people who testified in the trademark case, Dhanyam at Viha, Suvarna from Boulder OMC, and Satya Priya from Padma OMC in New York have been banned from Pune for testifying. They were all subpoenaed to testify, properly served with subpoenas, and could not legally refuse to testify. There has never been any charge that they testified untruthfully. Instead, Pramod has openly admitted in testimony in the US trademark case to arranging to have them banned simply because they dared to testify at all. Other former members of the Boulder OMC board were also threatened with banning for the center’s refusal to sign a Letter of Understanding and agree that OIF, Zurich owned the rights Boulder OMC had gained by using Osho in the marketplace for many years. In other words, they were threatened with banning for refusing to assign valuable legal rights to OIF, Zurich .
This is why it’s essential to collect information so that OIF and the individuals involved know they will be held accountable for their actions. There is also a place on the center questionnaires for centers that have been told they have to stop using Osho’s name or stop being an Osho center. Collecting this information is very important.
Whichever option you choose for your center, franchising or independence, you should read the articles below to protect your legal and financial rights.