Claims and Facts

This page is part of the historical background relating to "What Is an Osho?", a slick, sannyas-paradigm-shifting policy paper written by Amrito and circulated in 1998. A deconstruction of Amrito's paper is presented on this site, introduced here. A large subset of the background addresses various aspects of OIF's claimed right to control Osho's legacy, particularly regarding the legal muscle of copyright and trademark. This page debunks an outrageous propaganda piece issued by OIF via Pune proxies in the wake of losing a trademark decsion in the US. It is sourced from Osho Friends International. For more legal pages, see OFI or Legal Main Page.

After the recent decision in the US about the use of OSHO and His meditations, first the Resort put out a press release and then Vatayana sent out a message from Global Connections. (0IF Zürich, the entity involved in the case, has not commented [directly].)

[The "recent decision" referred to above was a judgment issued in Jan 2009 from the US Trademark Trial and Appellate Board (TTAB) in a case brought by OFI to contest OIF's trademarking of Osho. The case took eight years to resolve. OFI has links to M$ Word and pdf versions of this decision plus a link to the relevant US gov't website. An Indian Intellectual Property lawyer who took an interest in the case has made more accessible by posting key parts of it to an Indian Intellectual Property Law blog. That blog post is reposted here.]


Virtually everything in the two messages out of Pune is untrue, a sad commentary on what has been happening in the community. It brings to mind OSHO’s warnings about the hypnotic effect of false statements:

Adolf Hitler wrote in his autobiography ‘Mein Kampf’ that if you go on repeating a lie it becomes real. Repetition is the key. And he should know. He practised it. He is not simply asserting something theoretical, he practised it the whole of his life. He uttered lies, absolutely absurd lies, but one thing he insisted on -- he went on repeating. When you go on repeating some lie again and again and again it starts becoming real, because the mind starts getting hypnotised by it.

Repetition is the method of hypnosis. Repeat anything and it becomes engraved in your being -- that’s how we are deluded in life.
~ from The Art of Dying, Ch 7


Here is a brief overview of what’s being claimed and the real facts. "This is being offered in the hope that truth can act like a breath of fresh air to free up the space for OSHO to flower in a dazzling variety of ways around the world.

Claim: Since the 1970s OSHO’s name and meditation techniques have been trademarked.

Fact: OSHO’s meditation techniques have never been trademarked. (See His quote about that below.) In the late 1970s a couple of OSHO groups attempted to register trademarks for "Rajneesh" for their own specific goods and services, but those trademarks were never used and there’s no evidence OSHO even knew about them. No one before OIF ZÜRICH has ever attempted to use a trademark to monopolize the use of OSHO’s name or control OSHO centers. No one ever assigned legal rights in OSHO’s name to OIF ZÜRICH.

You don’t understand what meditation is. It is nobody’s belonging, possession. You cannot have any copyright. Perhaps if your country gives you trademarks and copyrights on things like meditation, then it will be good to have a copyright on stupidity. That will help the whole World to be relieved... Only you will be stupid and nobody else can be stupid; it will be illegal.
~ from Om Shantih Shantih Shantih, Ch 26, q 1


Claim: OIF ZÜRICH trademarked OSHO when OSHO changed His name.

Fact: OIF ZÜRICH could not have "trademarked" the name OSHO when OSHO changed His name in 1989 unless OIF ZÜRICH owned exclusive rights in the name OSHO at that time, which it did not. If OSHO had wanted to, He could have assigned the rights in his new name "OSHO" to OIF ZÜRICH or some other person or group to use as a trademark, but OSHO chose not to assign the name to anyone. Instead, OSHO asked all the people who had been using His personal name, Rajneesh, in their work, to use OSHO instead. This is a use exactly opposite to a trademark use.

Claim: In particular, trademark law allows the Foundation to act against people who misuse the name OSHO. For example, anyone changing any of the OSHO meditations, and still presenting them as "OSHO" meditations, can be stopped from putting the title "OSHO" on the changed meditation.

Fact: OIF Zürich has not been able to do this till now and will not be able to do this legally. OSHO’s meditation techniques have been in the public domain since the 1960s. This is because OSHO openly encouraged people to take the techniques and teach them to others without exercising any control over them. OSHO never assigned ownership in the techniques to anyone else. No entity, including OIF ZÜRICH, can now take the meditation techniques out of the public domain and claim to own or control them. A trademark registration would not give OIF ZÜRICH control over the meditations. The US Trademark office has already pointed out to OIF ZÜRICH that it does not own the meditation techniques that have been widely used for many years.

Claim: Trademarks allow OIF ZÜRICH to "protect" OSHO by controlling claims people make about OSHO, such as false claims that He created certain meditations or did artwork.

Fact: Trademarks have absolutely nothing to do with historical people. Even if a trademark is the same as the name of a historical person (George Washington. Lincoln. etc.). If people make false claims about the person OSHO, His estate might be able to take some action, but a trademark holder for "OSHO" would have no legal grounds to bring an action. Someone selling a fake piece of artwork would be guilty of fraud.

Claim: Trademarks allow OIF ZÜRICH to prevent people from using OSHO as a trademark for other goods and services like hamburgers, brothels, tissue, etc.

Fact: OIF Zürich has not been able to do this, even with Trademarks. Trademark law allows the same trademark to be used for goods that won’t be confused by the public. For example, two companies couldn’t use the same trademark for computer accessories and computer programs, because the public would confuse them. Two companies probably could use the same trademarks for cars and stuffed animals, or some other products that the public wouldn’t confuse.

There is already a trademark for OSHO in the US for a Japanese restaurant. Internationally there’s a brand of OSHO bicycles. OSHO is a Japanese word that has several different meanings. No one who had a trademark for OSHO as related to the teachings of OSHO could prevent anyone else from having trademarks of OSHO for some other kind of goods or services.

Claim: OSHO’s name is protected in 40 countries.

Fact: OIF ZÜRICH, the entity claiming tademarks in the US has also registered trademarks in Switzerland, the EU, Canada and Australia. A trademark registration is not the same thing as trademark ownership. To register a trademark the applicant has to swear it owns the trademark and pay the fee. No evidence of ownership is required. If the trademark claim is challenged by anyone, or if the trademark claimant tries to enforce it, then the claimant will have to prove ownership. In the US OIF ZÜRICH failed to prove a trademark existed at all.

Claim: The inner circle is involved in trademark claims.

Fact: The inner circle was set up by OSHO as an advisory group with no legal standing or power. OSHO could have had the inner circle set up as a charitable trust, and He could have transferred ownership of His rights in His name and His work to it, but OSHO chose not to do any of those things.

The original members that Osho appointed, to the Inner Circle have long been changed.

The inner circle is also not directly concerned in any trademark claims. Exclusive rights to use "OSHO" and to control how other people doing OSHO’s work use "OSHO" is being claimed by OIF ZÜRICH, a small Zürich-based group. This is a small group of men with a board including the following: Jayesh, Amrito, Yogendra, Pramod, and Mukesh. The inner circle has no legal control over this group.

Claim: There has been a copyright of OSHO’s work since the 1970s that is registered and protected by international treaties.

Fact: The documents on file with the US Library of Congress show that the document purportedly signed by OSHO in the 1970s (no original is available) was only a conditional license of publishing rights for eight early OSHO books. There is no document known where OSHO assigns His copyrights to anyone else.

International treaties on copyrights only apply when a copyright actually exists. OIF ZÜRICH has never produced any document showing it received copyrights from OSHO.

Claim: OIF ZÜRICH was selected by OSHO to protect His work/name, etc.

Fact: OSHO never selected or assigned anything to OIF ZÜRICH. There’s not even any reliable evidence that OSHO knew OIF ZÜRICH existed. OIF ZÜRICH was a Rajneesh Foundation Europe set up in 1984. OIF ZÜRICH has always been a paper corporation without an office (it has a mail drop and answering service in Zürich) that has never run any OSHO-related activities like meditations. OIF ZÜRICH claims to own copyrights and trademarks and seeks to license both of those for profit. In the US trademark case OIF ZÜRICH claimed it has the right to take all profits from all work related to OSHO, including center activities.

"OIF ZÜRICH and its predecessors have received (and in the future will continue to receive) all benefits, including all money and all goodwill, resulting from their own and their licensees’ use of the OSHO trademarks." (OSHO International Foundation’s Memoranda of Law in Opposition to Petitioners Motion for Summary Judgment. p.4)

Claim: Trademarks for OSHO are for the purpose of protecting and spreading OSHO’s work.

Fact: The only effect trademarks for could possibly have would be to restrict and control the work of people who are actually engaged in OSHO’s work (centers, sessions, groups, books, etc.). They can not protect or spread His work. OIF Zürich has been known to force closure of websites spreading Osho’s work, threatening Osho centres, stopping publishing work of centres.

We can agree with GC, at least, that it’s time for us all to enjoy the spread of OSHO’s work in as many diverse ways as there are individual successors of OSHO. Let the wildfire burn!

Because the people who are around me.... It is not an established religion. I had started alone, and then people started coming and became, fellow travelers; it became a big caravan. But their love gives me the authority. I don’t have any power over them, but their love gives me the authority.

I would not like them to become an organized religion because that is the death of the very search for in which they had come to me. So now it is simply an open movement of religiousness, with no catechism, with no church, with no clergy, with no holy hook: an experiment totally new to the whole history of man.

And because they love me, they listen to me. It is still up to them: it they want to organize something they can, but not around me. I am absolutely free. If they want to organize something they can go to hell and do whatever they want, but 1 am not going to allow anything to be organized around me.
~ from The Last Testament, Vol 3, Ch 25

Nobody is my follower. Nobody is going to be my successor. Each sannyasin is my representative. When I am dead, you all - individually - will have to represent me to the world. There is not going to be any pope. There is not going to be any shankaracharya. Each sannyasin, in his own capacity, has to represent me.

This has never happened but it is going to happen! You are all my successors.

When I am dead, that simply means I have left this body and entered all the bodies of my people.

I will be within you.

I will be part of you.
~ from From Death to Deathlessness, Ch 25

Wouldn’t it be great if OIF ZÜRICH would drop its claim to control a non-existent OSHO organization and simply enjoy the wonder of the diversity around OSHO’s work?

You can see gathered around me here all kinds of people from all countries, all races-but we are not a new religion. I am not trying to create one religion; we are just creating a quality: religiousness, meditativeness, prayerfulness, trust, gratitude towards existence. Yes, on these things humanity can become a great brotherhood, but about details many things are bound to remain different and they should remain different. There is no reason to destroy this variety. It will be like when you love roses, so you start growing only roses.
~ from Come, Come, Yet Again Come, Ch 10, q2

But when religion is alive and breathing - that’s what I mean by religiousness then you are possessed by it, but you cannot possess it. You cannot possess a Buddha or a Lao Tzu or a Zarathustra. You cannot possess Bahauddin, Jalaluddin, al-Hillaj Mansoor.. no, that is not possible. These are people who have known the ultimate freedom - how can you possess them? They cannot fulfill your expectations, they cannot move according to you; they will have their own way. If it suits you, you have to be with them. You will not be able to force them to be with you: there is no way possible.
~ from Come, Come, Yet Again Come, Ch 13, q1