OIF and its Claims
page is part
of the historical background relating to "What Is an
Osho?", a slick, sannyas-paradigm-shifting policy paper written by
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 explores
OIF's institutional ancestry and what it claims to own. It is sourced
Friends International. For more legal pages, see OFI or Legal
What is OIF and what does it claim to own?
Osho International Foundation (OIF) was originally called Rajneesh
Foundation Europe (RFE). It was set up in November 1984 by Rajneesh
Foundation International (RFI), the foundation that owned the property
on the Ranch (Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, USA).
RFE was renamed Neo Sannyas International Foundation and after 1990
renamed of Osho International Foundation and Board changed. OIF has
never had a real presence in Switzerland. The address in Zürich is the
address of an office service that receives mail and takes telephone
messages. There has never been an actual working office there. Even
today OIF, Zürich has no office, no staff, no facilities, and no
activities like meditations or events.
RFI, USA signed a document in 1985 allegedly transferring RFI's rights
in Osho's copyrights to RFE, Zürich. The copyright section of this site
shows RFI didn't own Osho's copyrights at that time, the alleged
transfer meant nothing. Nonetheless, that document is the basis for all
of OIF's claims to special status and ownership today. OIF has never
received an assignment from Osho himself or from any sannyas-related
foundation or group except RFI. The last purported assignment from RFI
was in 1986. (See Copyrights for details.)
There's no evidence that Osho ever knew about the foundation in
Switzerland. At the time of the alleged copyright transfer from RFI to
RFE, Osho had already left the US to return to India, so there's no
evidence that He knew about that either. The name OIF came after 1990,
after Osho left the body.
It is understood that after Osho returned to India from
Rajneesh Foundation, India (RF) began to claim ownership of the
"copyrights" (really exclusive publishing rights) again. During the
rest of Osho's life these rights were claimed by India-based entities.
Meanwhile, the name of RFE was changed to Neo-Sannyas International
Foundation (NSIF). At around the same time the name of RF was also
changed to NSIF. That way, when Osho's books and recordings had a
copyright attribution of NSIF, it was unclear whether the Zürich or the
Indian foundation was claiming ownership.
As the copyrights section of this site demonstrates, neither of these
foundations actually owned the copyright, since Osho had never
transferred more than a conditional publishing license to anyone. The
point is that the foundation now known as OIF, Zürich was concealing
its claim to copyright ownership. The question naturally arises, was
the purpose of this to conceal this claim from Osho, as well?
After Osho left the body the concealment continued. NSIF in Zürich
changed its name to OIF in 1990 or 1991, and in 1991 a completely
independent Indian trust called OIF was set up. In all publications of
Osho's work in India it continued to appear that it was the Indian
foundation, not the Swiss, that was claiming copyright ownership. It
wasn't until the year 2000 that OIF, Zürich finally came out and openly
claimed in India to own all copyrights.
So what does OIF claim to own today? OIF stated its claim to ownership
of Osho's work and work related to Osho's teachings in its applications
for trademarks to the United States Patent and Trademark Office
(USPTO). OIF said in several different applications: "Applicant [OIF]
is the owner of all copyrights in the writings and oral teachings of
the mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh." OIF, Zürich based its claim to
trademark ownership on this claim to copyrights.
Is this copyright ownership claim true? No, it's not even close to
true. First of all, no one can own an "oral teaching." Someone could
own a recording of a discourse (though there's no evidence that OIF,
Zürich does), but no one can ever own an oral teaching. Copyrights
cover what is called expression. That means the way things are written,
said, sung, performed, photographed, painted, recorded, and so on.
Copyrights never cover ideas.
That means that anyone, yes anyone, who wants to take Osho's ideas (or
anyone's ideas) and repeat them as their own is completely free to do
so, as long as they don't quote, paraphrase, or organize material in
the same way Osho did. As long as a person puts the ideas in his or her
own words and organize in his or her own way, anyone's ideas are free
for the taking. To do that might be rude, but not illegal. This is true
of any copyrighted material. Ideas can never be owned, by anyone, ever.
After all, Osho himself did a kind of borrowing extensively. He drew on
every major religious tradition and even used quotes from many works
for commentary, but He rarely, if ever, got permission from the
copyright holders to do that. Osho, at least, never claimed any of that
was "His;" He simply pointed out that Existence was speaking through
Him. Osho understood deeply that ideas aren't anyone's property.
you hear my music; that music comes
from the beyond. I cannot claim any
monopoly, any copyright on it.
~ from The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here, ch 6
Also, no work is copyrightable until it
is "fixed." This means that it
is written down, photographed, recorded, put into musical notation,
painted, and so on. It has to be in a fixed form so that it can be
identified. There could never be a copyright for some sort of ethereal
"oral teaching." There could only be a copyright for recordings, which
OIF, Zürich clearly does not own. (See Copyrights)
Aside from the problem of owning oral teachings, there is no evidence
that OIF, Zürich owns the copyrights to any of Osho's work. In fact,
that would be impossible, since Osho never assigned ownership of His
copyrights to anyone else. He still owned them when He left the body.
Based on its claim to own copyrights, to have licensed copyrights in
the marketplace, and to have licensed and controlled all Osho centers
since 1989, OIF, Zürich now claims to own all of Osho's work and all
the work ever done by anyone else in the marketplace related to Osho's
teachings. This claim, is, of course, absurd. The reasons why it is
absurd are discussed fully in the trademark and copyright sections of
OIF, Zürich has registered or attempted to register trademarks for
"Osho" in the US, Switzerland, EU, Canada, and Australia etc. OIF,
India has registered [or attempted to register?] trademarks for "Osho"
in India. It's important to note that a trademark registration is not
proof of trademark ownership. An applicant for a trademark registration
merely swears, truthfully or not, that it owns the trademark and pays
the fee. No proof is needed. See the trademark section of this site for
detailed discussions of this.
As discussed fully in the copyright section of this site, OIF does not
own the copyrights to any of Osho's books. The documents Osho allegedly
signed were at most licenses for publishing rights for not more than
eight books . Further, according to those documents any future
discourses Osho gave were not to be part of the license unless Osho
specifically gave them to the licensee. He had the option of refusing
to give any future work. There is no evidence that Osho ever included
more than eight books in the license. Since there is no original of the
license document, not even the license for eight books can be proven in
The most OIF, Zürich could possibly own (if the document could ever be
authenticated) would be an exclusive right to publish the material
included in the eight books listed. Further, there's no evidence that
OIF owned rights other than those belonging to Osho in the books.
Since Osho didn't write books, but gave discourses that had to be
transcribed, edited, designed, and so on, many people besides Osho were
involved in creating the books. Each of those persons whose
contribution was copyrightable owned the rights to their own works
unless they had specifically given those rights away. Whether or not
transcribing, editing, designing, and so on created a copyright
interest in the work depends on the law of the country where the work
was done. In the same way, the sufficiency of any assignment of rights
depends on the law of that country. For example, in the US
work-for-hire agreements must be in writing and signed before the work
is completed in order to be legally enforceable.
Given the nature of Osho's work and the way books were created, it
would be virtually impossible for anyone to own all the rights in one
book, let alone all the books. They could start from scratch and do the
transcribing and editing over again, but the cost of that would
probably be prohibitive.
OIF, Zürich's claim to own exclusive rights in all of Osho's books is
without foundation and can never be proved.
The copyright license documents Osho is alleged to have signed are a
bit ambiguous as far as recordings go. Osho purports to grant a license
for "the exclusive printing and publishing rights in the said Books,
Articles, Speeches, Writings and other Works heretofore written or
If we interpret "publishing" broadly to include the production of
audio/video recordings, then these might have been included in this
license. But the same limitations would apply to these recordings as
apply to the books.
First, the documents allegedly signed by Osho have never been
authenticated and original copies are not known to exist. This means
they can't be legally enforced. Second, all of OIF, Zürich's claims
rely on the 1978 document , which Sheela, as Osho's attorney (in fact
holder of His power of attorney) swore in 1985 was limited to eight
titles . (See Copyrights for a full discussion.) Since some of these
are very old titles, no recordings of them exist.
If the 1978 license applied to recordings at all, it probably applied
to at most four titles of works that are available in audio recordings
and probably no videos.
So, the most OIF, Zürich could own in relation to the audio/video
recordings of Osho's "performances" in discourse would be an exclusive
publishing license in Osho's contribution to the recordings that were
used to create the eight titles identified by Sheela.
As with the books, the recordings involved the work of many individuals
who recorded, edited, copied, and otherwise worked with the recordings.
The extent to which that work created a copyright interest in the
individuals depends on the law of the countries where the work was
done. If the individuals gave their rights away to someone else or some
legal entity, the sufficiency of those transfers would depend on the
laws of the country were the work was done. The same kinds of
work-for-hire agreements are required for all creative work in the US
as are required for work in book publishing. That means a work-for-hire
agreement has to be in writing and signed before the work is completed.
The situation with recordings is the same as with the books. The most
OIF, Zürich could ever possibly claim would be an exclusive publishing
license in Osho's share of the recordings of eight titles, several of
which were not recorded.
In 1999 OIF attempted to register trademarks in the US for the names of
Osho's meditation techniques: Dynamic, Kundalini, Nadabrahma, Nataraj,
Gourishankar, and for the phrase "active meditations." The trademark
office refused to register any of these because they were merely
descriptive and didn't indicate OIF, Zürich as the source of a product
or service. The trademark office went on to point out that OIF, Zürich
could not own meditation techniques that have been in widespread,
uncontrolled use for many years.
OIF, Zürich dropped the attempt to register the names of the mediations
and came up with what it thought was a way to get sannyasins to help
OIF, Zürich gain control of the meditation techniques. OIF, Zürich
began telling sannyasins, often through its agent Global Connections in
Pune, that people could help keep Osho's meditations "24-karat" by
adding the prefix "Osho" to the names of the meditation techniques:
Osho Dynamic, Osho Kundalini, and so on. OIF, Zürich's idea was that
since they were pretending to own the name "Osho," they would also
pretend to own any meditation technique with "Osho" as part of the
name. Many people began to use Osho as a prefix in the meditation
names, not realizing why OIF, Zürich was trying to make this change.
Of course, even if OIF, Zürich did own all rights in "Osho" (which it
clearly does not) that would not give OIF ownership or control of
meditation techniques that have been in the public domain for many
years. OIF, Zürich is well aware of this, but there may be sannyasins
and others who are not, so OIF, Zürich continues to claim to own and
control the techniques. If fact, OIF, Zürich goes so far as to claim
that one of the main purposes of trademarks is to "protect" the
The reality is that Osho placed the meditation techniques in the public
domain during His lifetime, and no one can change His decision. Osho
began teaching meditation techniques to people in meditation camps in
India in the 1960s to 1970s. He encouraged, even insisted, that people
take the techniques and teach them to others. He asked people to open
meditation centers were a large part of the program was teaching and
doing these techniques. Individuals took the techniques to other kinds
of centers and programs and taught them in college classes or in
business settings. While all of this was happening, Osho exercised no
legal control over His techniques and didn't assign any kind of right
over the techniques to anyone else. Now, over 40 years down the road,
no person can claim ownership of those techniques. Osho gave them as a
gift to the world, and once the goose is out of the bottle, you can't
get it back in and have the techniques belong to one entity.
Osho's decision and actions meant that the meditation techniques could
not be controlled or "protected." This never bothered Osho, and there's
no reason why it should bother us. Osho gave certain warnings about not
misusing the techniques, which we would do well to pass on. Beyond
that, there's nothing we could do, even if it was appropriate to try
and control the techniques in a way Osho never did. The meditation
techniques are in the public domain where Osho wanted them to be.
OIF, Zürich has products that are CDs of music to do the meditation
techniques by. After its trademark applications for the meditations
were denied, OIF changed the names of those CDs to "Osho Dynamic," "Osho Kundalini," and so on.
In the US trademark case Pramod (Klaus Steeg) testified that the names
of Osho's meditation techniques had always included His name as a
prefix. Pramod claimed that before the name change in 1989, the
meditations had been consistently called Rajneesh Dynamic, and so on,
instead of just Dynamic Meditation. He never explained why, if this was
true, OIF tried to register plain "Dynamic Meditation" as a trademark
In 2000 and 2001 OIF, Zürich filed new US trademark applications
for "Osho Kundalini" and "Osho Nadabrahma." Every trademark application
says the mark will be applied to specified goods or services. The
applicant must claim that it has the exclusive right to sell the goods
or services in the marketplace. The services OIF, Zürich applied for
under the names of Osho's meditations were:
"Education services, namely, conducting individual sessions, workshops,
retreats, seminars, groups, courses, training in the field f the
teachings of the mystic Osho" in International Class 41.
"Spiritual counseling and meditations," in International Class 42.
In other words, OIF, Zürich claimed that the Osho centers have no legal
right to use His meditation techniques in sessions, etc. OIF, Zürich
gave the date of first use of these meditations as 1978. (It had to go
back and change that after it added "Osho" to the names of the
meditations, since Osho wasn't used until late 1989.) The important
point is that OIF, Zürich openly admitted that the meditation
techniques had been used in the US from at least 1978 onward. OIF,
Zürich was not formed until 1984 in Switzerland, and it had never
received any assignment from any person, center, or foundation of
rights in Osho's meditation techniques in the US.
From the facts OIF has admitted it is completely clear that OIF, Zürich
could not possible own exclusive rights to use Osho's meditation
techniques. OIF could not have rights superior to the rights of centers
that used the techniques for at least six years before OIF, Zürich was
even founded. Some US Osho centers, on the other hand, have been
conducting sessions, workshops, retreats, etc, using the meditation
techniques since at least 1978, so OIF, Zürich's claim that it had the
exclusive right to use the meditation techniques was unfounded.
None of the applications for trademarks of the names of Osho's
meditations were approved for registration before the action to cancel
all trademarks claiming an exclusive right to use "Osho" was filed in
the US. All applications to register the names of Osho's meditation
techniques as trademarks in the US were cancelled as descriptive in the
Trademark Board's decision. In spite of this lack of registration and
the evidence OIF, Zürich has admitted that shows it could not have
exclusive rights to use Osho's meditation techniques, OIF continues to
this day to claim ownership and control of the meditations.
On its website at Osho.com, OIF has this statement:
trade names, trademarks, service marks, logos and trade styles on this
site are owned by Osho International Foundation. Proper use is limited
to use in connection with the products and services of the mark owner
and no other use is permitted without the owner's prior written
permission. The following marks are owned by OIF, Zürich: OSHO and the
OSHO SIGNATURE DESIGN, OSHO ACTIVE MEDITATIONS, OSHO KUNDALINI
MEDITATION, OSHO GOURISHANKAR MEDITATION, OSHO NADABRAHMA
MEDITATION,OSHO NATARAJ MEDITATION, OSHO DYNAMIC MEDITATION,
SPIRITUALLY INCORRECT, OSHO REBALANCING, OSHO DIVINE HEALING, OSHO
CRANIO-SACRAL BALANCING, OSHO TIBETAN PULSING, OSHO MYSTIC ROSE, OSHO
TIMES, OSHO ZEN TAROT, OSHO TRANSFORMATION TAROT, OSHO MEDITATION
RESORT, OSHO MULTIVERSITY, NO-THOUGHT FOR THE DAY AND THE SWAN LOGO.
No permission is required to use any
of the marks as an accurate factual reference to the practice or
teaching of Osho Meditation techniques, provided you as user accurately
identify yourself by your own name (not including Osho as part of the
The only restriction is that if you
are teaching or presenting Osho Meditations publicly, you need to
ensure that what you are offering is as described and presented in
detail on the meditation area of osho.com, with its correct title, for
example, Osho Dynamic Meditation, and is accompanied by the music
specifically created for that meditation.
[Three links in this section were supplied to osho.com content.
Since none of
them work any more, they have been omitted.]
This claim to control the meditation techniques or the name you can use
for the center that is presenting the techniques is completely false.
No one is required to use "Osho" as a prefix with the meditation
techniques if they don't choose to. During Osho's entire life the
meditation techniques were called Dynamic Meditation, Kundalini
Meditation, and so on. Osho never thought it was necessary to use His
name as a prefix. OIF, Zürich is trying to get people to do this as a
backhanded way of trying to claim ownership and control of the
techniques that Osho never gave to them or to anyone else. OIF, Zürich
knows it doesn't own these techniques, but is hoping that others don't
Most of the so-called trademarks in OIF, Zürich's list above have not
even been the subject of trademark applications, let alone been
registered at least in US. These claims by OIF, Zürich are a major
intended to convince the unwary that OIF, Zürich owns and controls
Osho's meditation techniques, and can, therefore, control the
activities of Osho centers. There misrepresentations about ownership of
the meditation techniques are false.
Osho's meditation techniques are today what they have always been since
Osho created them: free for every spiritual seeker who wants to use
them. According to Osho, they are an expression of Existence that moved
through Osho and are intended to help people move into deeper states of
meditation and consciousness. The meditation techniques are not
anyone's property or anyone's power base. They belong to all.
This means that the meditation techniques can't be "protected," it also
means they can't be exploited, commercialized, franchised, controlled,
or restricted. Osho knew what He was doing.
There are several different ways to own a copyright for music. You can
own the music composition, the lyrics, the performance contained in a
recording, and the recording, and the recording. Several years after
Osho left the body OIF came up with the idea of making all musicians
who play in Pune sign over the rights in their compositions or they
aren't allowed to play. Only some of the composition rights appear to
have been assigned to OIF, Zürich and some to OIF, India.
First, Rights in a composition are not sufficient to own rights in a
recording or to have a legal right to duplicate and sell a recording.
To sell a music product you have to have ownership or a license of all
the copyrights involved, including the performance rights of all
musicians on the recordings.
Second, contracts, such as assignments of copyrights, are only legally
enforceable if there was what is called "consideration." That means
that the party receiving the benefit under the contract [OIF] gave
something valuable in return. Since OIF, Zürich has no legal power to
control who performs music in the Pune center, it gave nothing of value
and assignments to OIF, Zürich would most likely not be enforceable if
any musician wishes to revoke them.
It's possible, though unlikely, that musicians received something of
value from OIF, India. That would only be true if OIF, India, and not
other entities, has the legal power to determine who performs music in
Finally, if assignments are gained by misrepresentation, then they
aren't enforceable and the artist can revoke them. For example, OIF,
Zürich has told some people that they have already given ownership of
artwork and music to "the foundation," during the time in Pune I and
II. OIF sometimes claims that these assignments have been "lost." OIF
further implies that these rights now belong to OIF, Zürich.
This representation is completely false. OIF, Zürich is a completely
separate entity from any entity in Pune, and no entity in Pune has ever
assigned any rights in music or artwork to OIF, Zürich. If any entity
in Pune ever owned any such interest, it has absolutely nothing to do
with OIF, Zürich. So, for example, if OIF, Zürich obtained an
assignment of rights in music because OIF claimed it already owned
those rights, that claim would be a misrepresentation. OIF, Zürich has
never been assigned any rights from entities operating in Pune I and
Further, if OIF only has the composition rights in music, but not the
performance rights from all the performers or the recording rights,
then OIF, Zürich has no legal right to produce or sell the music as a
OIF has also claimed the right to decide what music may be recorded in
relation to Osho. As we discuss at length in the trademark articles,
trademarks never have anything to do with an historical person, even if
the trademark is the name of that historical person. People can record
and sell music related to the person Osho in any way they want. No
claim to own any trademarks has anything at all to do with it. Only a
valid ownership of composition rights to music could be used to prevent
that music from being recorded.
This dispute has centered around Amrito's, and perhaps Jayesh's, idea
that devotion is unacceptable, even though Osho talked about devotion
as a path. Amrito and others claim the right to decide, in the way of a
hierarchical religion, what music is acceptable. This is wholly
unfounded. People can play and record any kind of music they like in
connection with the historical person Osho. No one can ever own an
historical person or control how others relate to an historical person;
that simply isn't what a trademark is about.
Photographs are copyrighted by the person who takes the photograph. The
copyright "affixes" to the photograph the moment when it is taken and
becomes fixed. Like with other artistic endeavors, the photographer
owns the copyright to his or her own photos unless he or she has
assigned the rights to others. The only limitation is that while the
subject of the photo is alive, no one can use the picture for
commercial promotion. That's no longer an issue with Osho.
It was "common wisdom" in the community at one time that whatever
creative work, like photography, artwork, editing, writing, and so on,
that was done in an Osho commune or ashram legally belonged to the
commune or ashram. Saying that doesn't make it so, and in many cases it
wasn't so. This is clearly untrue in the US, where the individual owns
his or her own work unless a valid written work-for-hire agreement has
been signed. Everyone should check the laws of the countries where they
did creative work to see what ownership rights they have.
At one point OIF, Zürich claimed to own all photographs of Osho and to
have the power to control who used them and how. OIF reportedly once
threatened to sue a sannyasin-owned magazine in Europe for $25,000 for
using a picture of Osho on the cover. (If this kind of behavior occurs,
it needs to be reported as harassment. See Your options)
It's unclear whether OIF, Zürich owns the rights to any photographs at
all. No Indian entity has assigned its rights in photographs to OIF,
Zürich . This means that OIF, Zürich clearly does not own rights to any
photographs taken pre-Pune I, in Pune I or Pune II, or on the World
RFI, the US foundation did assign rights in photographs to OIF, Zürich
, but its unclear what rights RFI actually owned. In order for RFI to
own rights in photographs it would have to have obtained work-for-hire
agreements from the photographers before the photos were taken. Then it
would have needed to keep track of who took each photograph or group of
photographs, so that photographs could be matched to the work-for-hire
It's very unlikely that OIF has this kind of information for the
Ranch-era (Rajneeshpuram, USA) photographs, which means that the 1986
assignment from RFI to OIF was meaningless as far as the ownership of
copyrights in individual photographs is concerned. If OIF claims to own
"all photographs of Osho" anyone can feel confident in completely
ignoring them. If OIF claims to own a particular photo it needs to
produce the identification of the photographer, the work-for-hire
agreement, and the assignment of rights to OIF. If OIF has all that,
simply choose a different photo.
OIF, Zürich has registered a trademark for one form of Osho's signature
in the US. This is so meaningless, that the US trademark challenge
didn't even bother with it. Like all trademark registrations, this does
not mean that OIF owns this particular signature. More importantly,
this registration has absolutely nothing to do with any other form of
Osho's signature. This registration does not mean OIF, Zürich owns
"Osho's signature" or that it owns Osho's art that involved painted
versions of His signature.
In reality, OIF, Zürich has never owned Osho's signature because it
never received an assignment of ownership rights in Osho's signature
(or of anything else) from Osho, who owned the rights to His own
signature. Further, OIF, Zürich has never used that particular
signature in the marketplace so the signature has not become a
source-indicator for OIF.
Since OIF, Zürich has not used the signature since it was registered
several years ago, OIF, Zürich has abandoned any trademark it might
have had in the signature. It won't help OIF, Zürich that it has
sometimes used other versions of Osho's signature on the website and in
other places. Even a slight change will usually constitute abandonment
of the original mark.
So anyone who wants to use Osho's signature as artwork, go ahead and
use it. If OIF harasses you, fill out an Intimidation questionnaire and
choose a different version of the signature.
There is no evidence that OIF, Zürich owns Osho's artwork. RFI in the
US assigned some rights in artwork to OIF, Zürich , but there's no
evidence that RFI ever owned any rights in Osho's artwork. Osho never
assigned rights in His artwork to anyone else, including RF in India.
No other entity ever assigned rights in Osho's artwork to OIF.
In 2000 a US for-profit corporation, America Multi-Media Corporation,
filed a claim on behalf of OIF, Zürich with the National Arbitration
Forum against Osho Dhyan Mandir and Atul Anand in New Delhi. The
complaint claimed that OIF owned trademarks for "Osho" in the US, and
as a result, Osho Dhyan Mandir's domain name "OSHOWORLD.COM" should be
transferred to OIF, since OIF was the only entity that could have a
domain name including "Osho" on the entire Internet.
The arbitrator refused OIF's demand in a strong decision, where he said:
record…is more than sufficient to establish that OSHO does not and
cannot serve as a source indicator and/or distinguishing moniker for
Complainant [OIF] and/or Complainant's goods and services. Under these
circumstances, there is serious doubt as to whether Complainant "has
rights" in such a trademark or service mark because the purported mark
does not and cannot serve a trademark purpose.
The overwhelming evidence indicates
that it refers to Osho, his teachings and his spiritual movement.
(Decision, p. 4–5)
(Nine years later the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB)
reached the same decision that "Osho" is not a source indicator for
OIF, Zürich and that, instead, the term refers to the person Osho, his
teachings, and his spiritual movement. On this basis all trademark
registrations or applications including "Osho" were cancelled or
The arbitrator went on to point out, as the TTAB did later, that
trademarks cannot be used to attempt to monopolize a religious teaching:
grant Complainant's request for relief would be to permit virtual
monopolization on the Internet by Complainant of any domain name which
includes the name of a great spiritual teacher and leader. While making
no judgment on the relative merits or validity of the world's religious
or spiritual movements or any leader thereof, this Arbitrator finds
that permitting this would be as improper as doing the same with
Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zorastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism,
Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism or any of the several hundred other of
the world's religions and/or spiritual movements. Neither the Lanham
Act nor the ICANN Policy and Rules contemplate or intend such a result.
(Decision, p. 6)
OIF, Zürich has a few products it claims to license in addition to Osho
books and recordings, mediation music, and other music. These include
some sets of tarot cards, note cards, and so on.
Most of the products OIF purports to license have some Osho material
included. For example, OIF, Zürich had a product with a teacup that
included a book of Osho quotes, and both tarot decks and the note cards
have Osho quotes as well. This means that OIF, Zürich doesn't own all
the rights in the products it has been producing, since it doesn't own
the copyrights for Osho's work.
It may own some of the rights. For example, there may be some
assignments of artwork or other work done by individuals, but OIF,
Zürich still doesn't have any exclusive rights to the Osho material
that is usually included.
OIF, Zürich would own the copyright in compilations if it had
work-for-hire agreements with the people who did the compilations. That
is, the person doing the compilation has rights in the way the
compilation is organized, but that person doesn't gain any rights he or
she didn't already have in the material being compiled. So a
compilation copyright for material that OIF, Zürich doesn't own isn't
worth very much.
Though OIF, Zürich has some rights in some of the products it purports
to license, it has very few more than anyone else. OIF, Zürich is not
in a position to stop others from creating their own compilations,
tarot cards, note cards, and so on, related to Osho's work.