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Being an Independent Center

It’s very important that everyone keep in mind that you always have the right to have an independent center. There’s nothing OIF, Zurich can ever do to prevent you from doing that.

OIF, Zurich is claiming to own the name of a religious leader/teacher as a trademark and claims that it can prevent others who are legitimately connected to the historical person Osho from using His name in their work. As you can see from the articles on trademarks, this will always be a very difficult argument for OIF, Zurich to make in any country.

Even if by some bizarre decision OIF, Zurich's claim to trademark ownership is upheld in some country, this will still not prevent centers from being independent. This is because trademarks don’t control the use of the name of the historical person. So the question becomes, is the use of Osho in a center name a reference to the historical person or a trademark use? You should check with a trademark authority in your country to determine this. You can always change the name of the center in such a way as to make the reference to the historical person more clear, such as, Rabia Meditation Center: Based on the teachings of Osho. A trademark of Osho could never allow OIF, Zurich to prevent you from referring to the historical person. This is why a trademark for “Osho” is unlikely ever to be upheld if the claim is challenged. If the public would have a hard time distinguishing between “Osho” being used as a trademark and “Osho” as a reference to the historical person, then “Osho” can never be an effective trademark for anyone.

As is explained in the trademark section, OIF, Zurich might get a trademark for its own name, Osho International Foundation, and could create any kind of organization, hierarchy, or franchise arrangement that it wants under that mark, as long as the other parties enter into the agreement by consent, not coercion. A trademark for “Osho” could never be a clear trademark for OIF, Zurich as long as there are independent centers that are referring to themselves in relation to the historical person Osho.

As a center choosing independence you have several options:

  • The first and most obvious is to refuse to be part of OIF, Zurich's current trademark claim to own “Osho.” The first step in doing this to clarify the nature of your center’s relationship with OIF, Zurich . If someone at your center signed a document called a Letter of Understanding, it is advisable for you to consult a lawyer about it and about OIF, Zurich's claims that this is a trademark license agreement. If you haven’t signed a Letter of Understanding, you might want to clarify your center’s relationship with OIF anyway. It’s always best to talk to an attorney in your country first.

If you send either of these letters to OIF, Zurich, it would be very helpful if you also email a copy to this site so that the information about who has objected can be gathered in one place. Then, if OIF, Zurich decides to mount a legal attack on any center, that center will have access to information about other independent centers.

  • You have the option to bring an action in your country or region (EU) to cancel OIF, Zurich's trademark registrations. This would have the advantage of placing you in the position of taking action and would permanently dispose of the trademark issue in your area. This is the approach that was taken in the US.
  • Get pledges for a legal fund. OIF, Zurich may decide to bring a legal action against one of the smallest or less prosperous centers in the hope of setting a legal precedence with a party that is unable to litigate effectively. If the centers and people of the country or region (i.e., the EU) are committed to stand behind any center that is attacked for choosing independence, OIF will be less likely to use this strategy. If it does use it, the joint centers will be prepared to deal with the challenge.
  • Provide information. If you read the trademark section of this site carefully you will see that OIF, Zurich has made a whole range of shaky, and sometimes contradictory, claims in the US trademark lawsuit. Having taken those positions, OIF, Zurich is now bound by its story.

It’s very important to gather information in one place that can be used in any legal action where OIF, Zurich makes these claims. The questionnaire section of this site has a number of questionnaires that apply to pretty much all sannyasins. If everyone pitches in and answers these questions, then a body of evidence will be waiting for any party that is legally attacked by OIF, Zurich .

A good collection of evidence will make it very, very difficult for OIF, Zurich to ever succeed in a trademark claim anywhere in the world. So, please, take the time to answer a few questions and make sure what you know is available to people who might need it to keep their work independent.