None can claim copyright over god’s name, says HC

In a landmark judgment, the Delhi High Court has said no one can claim copyright or exclusive trademark rights over god's name.
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Updated on Jan 27, 2011 11:36 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByHarish V Nair, New Delhi

In a landmark judgment, the Delhi High Court has said no one can claim copyright or exclusive trademark rights over god's name.

The court was adjudicating over a row between two city-based manufacturers of milk and butter, considered a favourite of the deity according to mythology, over labelling their products 'Krishna' and using pictorial representation of the deity.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher in a recent judgment held that the name 'Krishna' in our country was as common as 'John'

used in western countries. The judge refused to prohibit Parul Food Specialities, locked in a court battle with Bhole Baba Milk Food Industries, from using lord Krishna to sell its products.

Bhole Baba, which moved court against Parul, claimed exclusive rights over the name and pictorial depiction of 'Krishna', saying they had been using it for eight years.

The court allowed Parul Foods to use the name of Krishna after it abided by the direction to remove certain similarities in the colour of label and picture of the god, which Bhole Baba contended were "deceptive enough to confuse customers"

Lawyers in the unique case, Navrook Singh and HP Singh argued: "Lord Krishna's stories are more than 5,000 years old. His fondness for milk and butter is folklore. He is "maakhan chor"(butter thief) and the "dahi handi" (curd pot) is broken on Janmashtami days. The name of lord Krishna cannot be exclusive to any particular diary company. Thousands of them are already using it."

Justice Shakdher made it clear he knew the companies were using lord Krishna for commercial purpose. This is how he began his judgment:"The intense court battle is not for any altruistic purpose but for pure commercial gains. Since the products in issue are ghee, milk products and dairy products, the god who has been invoked; and the name which would, in the litigants estimation, catch consumers imagination is 'Krishna' ".

The court upheld Parul's argument that the name 'Krishna' is commonly used in milk products industries. However, he directed them to use 'Krishna' as part of its trade mark, by giving equal prominence to the its corporate name in its trademark for it to read finally as "Parul's Lord Krishna".

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