What is the story with the trademark “OSHO” about?


On their www.osho.info website, Osho International Foundation Zurich (OIF) has published a statement on the legal proceedings for the cancellation of the brand or trade mark “OSHO” in Europe that have been initiated by Osho Lotus Commune e.V., the parent organization of the Osho Uta Meditation Center in Cologne.

Contrary to the impression that Osho International Foundation Zürich (OIF) attempts to create, these proceedings are not a challenge to the worldwide distribution and marketing of Osho’s books and lectures. The extensive documents and statements that OIF has submitted in the proceedings on this subject are thus largely irrelevant, because the case does not have anything to do with the rights to Osho’s books and lectures. The case is also not about protecting Osho’s vision against abuse.

In fact, this case is just about one thing: Whether OIF is to be able to use a trademark registration to monopolize the name “Osho”, in order to gain the power to decide who is to be permitted to use the name “Osho” for meditation centers, meditation programs, therapy, training courses, festivals and so on, and to control how the name is to be used.

Ultimately, this is an attempt to use a trademark to establish a worldwide franchising system with which OIF would be able to use licensing agreements to control all Osho centers, Osho therapists and Osho-related activities. OIF is seriously attempting to sell us this attempt as “Osho’s vision”!

Osho’s vision was freedom. The vision of Michael Byrne (also known as Jayesh), is power and control. It would thus be more honest to speak of Michael Byrne and his vision.

Osho wanted all meditation centers to be able to be free and independent:

The world headquarters will be publishing my books, will be releasing my tapes, my videotapes, will be doing every kind of work. But it has no domination over anybody. All communes of the world are independent. All centers of the world are absolutely free. They are under nobody´s guidance… The world headquarters is not in any way a power over any sannyasin, over any other sannyas center, ashrams, communes.

Osho, The Last Testament, Vol. 6 Chapter 12

 
Osho Global Connections was to be given a special role in the worldwide network of sannyasins and their activities. In the following quote the co-founder of Osho Global Connections, describes how Osho expressed his own wishes for Osho Global Connections in 1989 (these statements have been included in the case material as an affidavit):

He wanted to have a worldwide network and emphasized that he wanted a loose connection… He said the network should be just very loose and not controlled in any way. Especially he wanted the centers to be independent. He especially made us aware that he did not want any control and domination – something that had been happening in the past, while he was in Oregon (USA).

In accordance with this, no trade mark claims were ever made for the name Osho in the Center Handbooks in 1990, 1992 and 1996. Registered trade mark claims were only noted for two logos (the swan logo and the two birds logo).

It was not until 1998 – a full eight years after Osho’s death! – that a trade mark application was filed for the name “Osho” for “educational services; yoga instruction; religious services; meditation services”. And this is the trade mark that this court case is about!

The objective is to enable OIF to control all the hitherto free and independent people who have for many years been sharing their understanding of Osho’s vision with the world. These actions are reminiscent of the tactics used by Sheela Silverman in the time between 1982 and 1985, when Sheela was Osho’s secretary and Osho was not giving any public lectures. Osho spoke on this subject in an interview that he gave to the German edition of the Osho Times in 1985, saying

I don’t want any structure, because all structures create a certain kind of slavery. And that’s what was being done by Sheela and her gang. She was creating structures; structures can function better. Slavery always functions better. An independent mind is always a problem. He may not agree with you. But freedom is more valuable than any functional, practical gains. Everything can be sacrificed to freedom. Freedom cannot be sacrificed to anything.

It is simply common sense that the name Osho stands for the man who lived on this planet from 1931 until 1990. It stands for his vision and his teachings. It does not stand for a trade mark for meditation products.

Those of us responsible for the Osho Uta Institute and the Cologne Buddhafield, and with us many other friends and lovers of Osho (including the over thirty Osho therapists, center leaders and sannyasins who have submitted affidavits calling for the deletion and revocation of the trademark), are not willing to permit OIF to appropriate Osho’s name in this fashion, because this would contradict everything for which Osho stood and stands. And this is why we have initiated these legal proceedings for the cancellation of “Osho” as a trade mark.