Two years ago, we had blogged about the opposition filed by Shri. Lalit Bhasin in his personal capacity before the Eucador Trademark Registry about the registration of the name and image of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi as the “ARROZ GANDHI” (Gandhi Rice) trademark. The registration was sought as an international Class 30 mark with respect to “‘aged or old rice, also medium and long grain rice’ that may or may not come from India“. The grounds of Shri. Bhasin’s opposition as well as an analysis of the situation under Eucador law can be found here and here.
The Eucador Trademark Registry through its order on June 6, 2013 has accepted the opposition filed by Shri. Bhasin and rejected the registration of the ARROZ GANDHI mark. The Trademark Registry held that Shri. Bhasin had a legitimate interest in opposing the registration as he had the capacity, power and rights that every Indian citizen for defendng his/her national symbols and the characters that form part of the culture and identity of their country. In this case, the name and image of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, is one of the most highly revered and the highest national symbol of India. The Trademark Registry also stated that it was also an icon of spirituality in India. Therefore, Shri. Bhasin had a legitimate interest as well as the capacity, power and rights to oppose the application for the registration of the “ARROZ GANDHI” mark.
Additionally, the Trademark Registry considered the fact that the ARROZ GANDHI mark contained the Gandhi drawing with all its graphic elements. This, when comparing the similarities and not the differences, stated the Trademark Registry, infringes the copyright of the Gandhi drawing.
Therefore, the rights of personality and publicity of a national figure in a foreign country and consequently, the prohibition on deriving financial benefit from such a person’s name and likeness has been recognized by Eucador and therein lies the significance of this judgment.