Smoking Monkeys, Roasted Hornbill and Indian Trademark Law

Smoking Monkeys (3)

What’s the connection, you might ask? Well, you’d have to dip into a rather profound parliamentary conversation that preceded the passage of the 1999 Trademarks Act (the one that brought in the IPAB) get to the root of this mystery! Here goes:

Title: Discussion on the Trade Marks Bill, 1999 (16:12 hrs).

Mr Chairman: Hon. Minister, Shri Murasoli Maran may move the Trade Marks Bill for consideration. Time allotted is 2 hours.


“That the Bill to amend and consolidate the law relating to trade marks, to provide for registration and better protection of trade marks of goods and services and for the prevention of the use of fraudulent marks, as passed by Rajya Sabha, be taken into consideration.”

Sir, the proposal before this House to consider the repeal and replacement of the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958 and to enact a new legislation to be called the Trade Marks Bill, 1999 is part of the Government’s initiative to modernize the laws relating to intellectual property and make them more user-friendly. The law relating to the registration and protection of Trade Marks in India is the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act of 1958. In the four decades since the statute came into force, the Act has not been amended even once.

Therefore, I seek the unanimous support of this august House in considering the Trade Marks Bill, 1999.

Mr Chairman: Motion moved:

“That the Bill to amend and consolidate the law relating to trade marks, to provide for registration and better protection of trade marks of goods and services and for the prevention of the use of fraudulent marks, as passed by Rajya Sabha, be taken into consideration.” 

Shri Priya Ranjan Dasmuni (Raiganj): Mr. Chairman, Sir……

….Some of the established trade marks are …causing some problems….I wonder, how does smoking link with monkey? “ हिन्दुस्तान में एक वानर भाई बीड़ी है। “

I do not understand the logic of linking smoking with monkey or an elephant with mustard oil. “हाथी मार्का तेल खरीदो तो अच्छा है। हाथी मार्का तेल एक समय में इतना मशहूर हो गया था कि सब लोग गलतफहमी में थे कि हाथी की छाप है तो ठीक है।”

Somebody riding on an elephant shouts “वह तेल खरीदेगा। “

He is not giving food to the poor elephant. But he is putting somebody as a rider on the elephant. I personally feel that since we have a lot of respect for the wildlife, the way we are using the symbol of elephant or tiger or monkey for the sake of our consumerism is very very painful and sickening to me. This matter of course does not cause concern for the trade. But it sometimes creates laughter and mystery behind it.”

The Roast

So clearly, an animal lover out there! But alas! In the very same set of debates, another Parliamentarian calls for the roasting of the Indian hornbill (worse still, his rant has nothing to do with the trademarks act or the trademarks bill):

Shri Trilochan Kanugo (Jagatsinghpur): “Sir, a patient, Shri Banke Behari Das, a Member of the House of Elders — the Socialist people must have heard about him — had come to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He was suffering from Rheumatism. The doctors told him that he had come from Orissa, the land of medicine for this disease. They asked him why did he come to Delhi when the medicine was available in Orissa. Banka Bata said I do not know what is and where is that medicine.” The doctors told him that Indian hornbill was the medicine. The Oriya equivalent of this is known as Kochilakhaichadehi Kochilakhaipokhi. Kochilakhaipokhi, he who takes the entire thing in totality by roasting it, the rheumatism and arthritis will go.”

There you go! Never a dull moment in our Parliament. Particularly when they discuss IP!

ps: image from here.

Shamnad Basheer

Shamnad Basheer

Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer founded SpicyIP in 2005. He's also the Founder of IDIA, a project to train underprivileged students for admissions to the leading law schools. He served for two years as an expert on the IP global advisory council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2015, he received the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2015 for his work on legal education and on democratising the discourse around intellectual property law and policy. The jury was headed by Nobel laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen. Professional History: After graduating from the NLS, Bangalore Prof. Basheer joined Anand and Anand, one of India’s leading IP firms. He went on to head their telecommunication and technology practice and was rated by the IFLR as a leading technology lawyer. He left for the University of Oxford to pursue post-graduate studies, completing the BCL, MPhil and DPhil as a Wellcome Trust scholar. His first academic appointment was at the George Washington University Law School, where he served as the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of IP Law. He then relocated to India in 2008 to take up the MHRD Chaired Professorship in IP Law at WB NUJS, a leading Indian law school. Later, he was the Honorary Research Chair of IP Law at Nirma University and also a visiting professor of law at the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. Prof. Basheer has published widely and his articles have won awards, including those instituted by ATRIP, the Stanford Technology Law Review and CREATe. He was consulted widely by the government, industry, international organisations and civil society on a variety of IP issues. He also served on several government committees.

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