OIF Zürich's Indian Pretensions

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 deals with the (lack of) legal connection between OIF and legitimate Indian entities. It is sourced from Osho Friends International. For more legal pages, see OFI or Legal Main Page.

In its effort to appear to be the source for all work related to Osho's teachings, OIF, Zürich keeps trying to take credit for all the work done in Pune, as well as in the rest of the world. Throughout the US trademark case OIF referred to the activities in Pune as the activities of OIF and claimed that OIF controls the activities in Pune. OIF also claimed that it has been actively controlling the centers around the world and the people at the centers through the training programs and groups in Pune, visits of center leaders to Pune, and visits from people who volunteer in Pune to the centers. For example, OIF claimed that Milarepa's performance at a music event sponsored by a center in North Carolina was an official inspection by OIF as part of its ongoing control of all centers, simply because Milarepa was "from Pune." Here's a sample, where OIF argues that a center leader in Baltimore is controlled by OIF through visits to Pune and participation in meditation camps there:

Mr. Tiwari trained extensively in OSHO meditations by visiting the OSHO Meditation Resort quarterly over the course of several years (less frequently in recent years), each time staying ten days and practicing five meditations each day….OIF stays in touch with Mr. Tiwari through OSHO Global Connections (which has sent Mr. Tiwari guidelines and a questionnaire regarding the operation of the Center, which Mr. Tiwari completed and returned), through other close OIF associates (who have visited the Center and participated in its activities), and through Mr. Tiwari's visits to the OSHO Meditation Resort.
(Trial Brief of Applicant/Respondent [OIF], March 20, 2008, p. 31)

OIF also claims to require training for center leaders:

OIF expects and encourages all OSHO Center licenses to maintain and update their skills throughout the duration of their use of the OSHO mark by attending the many hands-on advanced and refresher meditation training programs and seminars that OIF regularly offers at the OSHO Meditation Resort in Pune and at other locations in the U.S and worldwide.
(Trial Brief of Applicant/Respondent [OIF], March 20, 2008, p. 38)

On cross-examination of Pramod (Steeg), however, a very different story emerged. Pramod admitted that OIF does not legally control the many legal entities in Pune and never has. (Steeg testimony pp. 554;586) He also testified that the only way OIF, Zürich claims to have any legal connection with the legal entities in Pune is by purporting to license certain rights to OIF, India. (Steeg testimony p. 606 ) Pramod also claimed, without any evidence, that OIF, India controls all the other entities in Pune. (Steeg testimony p. 585)

The rights OIF, Zürich claims to license to OIF, India are Osho's copyrights in His work and trademarks for Osho for use in India. The Copyrights section of this site explains why OIF, Zürich does not own Osho's copyrights and has nothing to license to anyone else. OIF, Zürich's claim to license trademarks to OIF, India is equally without foundation.

As for licensing trademarks for activities in India, OIF, Zürich has not applied for any trademark registrations in India and has not claimed to own any legal rights there. (Steeg testimony pp. 315–16; Steeg Exh. 58 ) Both OIF Zürich and India claim that OIF, India has the right to register a trademark for Osho in India, which could only mean that OIF, India has the exclusive rights to use Osho in India. OIF, India's claims to own Osho's trademark are as weak as OIF, Zürich's (or even weaker, since OIF, India didn't even exist at the time of the name change in 1989), but the important point is that if OIF, Zürich claims OIF, India has the right to register the trademark, that means OIF, Zürich has no right to register it.

For OIF, Zürich to claim to license trademarks to OIF, India if OIF, India already owned those rights would be like me offering to lease my neighbor her own car. It's her car and she already owns it. I have no legal rights in her car, and I can't lease it to her. If OIF, India owns trademarks in India, as OIF, Zürich claims, then Zürich can't claim to license anything to OIF, India. IF OIF, India doesn't own trademarks in India, then the only trademark registration for Osho in India is void, and there's no basis for trademark enforcement.

There's also no legal basis for OIF, Zürich to claim to own trademark rights in India. OIF, Zürich has never done business in India and has received no assignments of trademark rights from anyone in India, so there would be no way for OIF, Zürich to own trademark rights in India. Since OIF, Zürich owns neither Osho's copyrights nor the right to use Osho as a trademark in India, Zürich can have no possible basis for exercising any kind of legal control over OIF, India and the activities in Pune through licenses, as Pramod (Steeg) claims.

Contrary to all OIF's attempts to portray itself as the source of all Osho's work, it is really a separate nonprofit foundation in Switzerland with no legal control over centers in Pune or anywhere else in the world. It has been functioning for many years by making false claims to copyright and trademark rights and selling those purported rights to others.