Odisha Court Admitted Case Against Aamir Khan Production’s Proposed ‘Satyamev Jayate’ Use as Trademark

As per the sources, the court in the Odisha capital, Bhuvaneshwar has admitted a petition challenging Aamir Khan Production’s plans to use ‘Satyamev Jayate’, the national motto of India, as a business brand under which it is proposed to sell everything from kitchen utensils to footwear.

A city-based journalist and social activist, Dr. Subash Mohapatra have filed a case against Amir Khan Productions challenging the trademark ‘Satyamev Jayate’ which is in the public domain and thus cannot be monopolized in respect of any goods and services. The SDJM court, Bhubaneswar has admitted the case filed.

The petitioner has claimed that Aamir Khan Production in the year 2012 has filed various trademark applications at Trade Marks Registry Mumbai for exclusive rights to use the term ‘Satyamev Jayate’ as a trademark for goods and services under various classes not only in respect of the television show but also for the goods from kitchen utensils to footwear. These trademark applications are pending with the Trade Mark Registry and were objected on the ground of non-distinctiveness.

The petitioner contended that the Bollywood superstar was seeking to exclusively use ‘Satyamev Jayate’ for commercial purposes, which is the most important feature of India’s Constitution and was adopted as the national motto after prolonged debate in the Constituent Assembly.

It is also contended in the petition that the word “Satyamev Jayate” is the exclusive property of all citizens of India having authority under the Government of India. It is a symbol of the nation and offices in India, the President of India, Judiciary, and Executives, also of the Constitution. The people of India glorify and feel proud of that particular word as it enshrines the national sentiment, identity, symbol, faith, and culture. So, Satyamev Jayate cannot be the property of any private individual person for his personal benefit and interest.

The petitioner also claimed that ‘Aamir Khan already being conferred with the coveted civilian award of Padma Bhushan, was able to influence officials of the Mumbai Trademark Office into granting him two stages of clearance to his proposal, which he said amounts to ‘waging war’ against the country and its Constitution’.

However, the question which intrigue our mind is that whether the registration of the term ‘Satyamev Jayate’ is prohibited under section 9(2) (d) which provides that a mark shall not be registered if it is prohibited by the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper use) Act, 1950. In order to find the applicability of Section 9 (2) (d) of Trade Mark Act, 1999, it is necessary to determine whether the term ‘Satyamev Jayate’ is an integral part of the National Emblem and if dissected from the Abacus can be referred to as National Emblem as per the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper use) Act, 1950. However, the State Emblem Of India (Prohibition Of Improper Use) Act, 2005 provides that the motto “Satyameva Jayate”-Truth alone triumphs-written in Devanagari script below the profile of the Lion Capital is part of the State Emblem of India.

Thus it will be interesting to note the Court’s decision in this case that whether the Aamir Khan Production will be able to get the Trade Mark over the term ‘Satyamev Jayate’ without the Central Government’s prior approval or it will be injuncted to obtain Trademark registration over the term ‘Satyamev Jayate’ being an integral part of the National Emblem and its use is prevented by a couple of legislations.

About the Author: Mr. Abhijeet Deshmukh, Trademark Attorney at Khurana and Khurana, and can be reached at Abhijeet@khuranaandkhurana.com.

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