In a unique judgment on the use of god names for business purpose, the Delhi High Court on Monday said that no commercial unit can claim copyright or exclusive trademark right over the name of a particular deity.
The bench, headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, was deciding on a row between two city-based manufacturers of milk and butter over labelling their products as ‘ Krishna ’ and using pictorial representation of the deity. Since as per mythology, the deity is believed to be fond of milk and other diary products, especially butter, and is worshipped worldwide by Hindus, the name Krishna cannot be exclusive to any particular diary company, the judge said, while dismissing an appeal filed by Bhole Baba Milk Food Industries against Parul Food Specialities.
Holding that the name Krishna in India was as common as John in the West, the bench had in January refused to prohibit Parul Foods from using lord Krishna to sell its products. Bhole Baba had claimed an exclusive right over the name and pictorial depiction of Krishna , saying they had been using it for eight years.
Navroop Singh and HP Singh, lawyers for Parul Foods argued: “Krishna’s stories are more than 5,000 year old. His fondness for milk and butter is folklore. He is ‘maakhan chor’ (butter thief). The name of lord Krishna cannot be exclusive to any particular diary company. Thousands of them are already using it.”
The court allowed Parul Foods to use the name after it abided by the direction to remove certain similarities in the colour of label and picture of the god, which Bhole Baba company contended were “deceptive enough to confuse customers”.