OIF's Strategies and Tactics
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
to control Osho's legacy, particularly regarding the legal muscle of
copyright and trademark. This page looks at
some of OIF's strategies and tactics in pursuit of their goals.
It is sourced from Osho
Friends International. For more legal pages, see OFI or Legal
OIF, Zürich's claim
to own copyrights and trademarks related to Osho's
work involves a lot of misdirection and attempts to create confusion.
There are six basic strategies and tactics OIF, Zürich uses to create
1. "Osho asked us."
OIF, Zürich is constantly insisting that Osho asked them to do things
contradictory to what Osho asked for in His discourses. Yet, Osho's
actions or failure to act are in every instance consistent with His
For example, OIF, Zürich claims Osho asked it to "protect His name." In
fact, when He changed His name to Osho in 1989, Osho did not assign His
new name to OIF, Zürich or any other group like the Inner Circle, as He
could have done, but publicly requested that all His people around the
world start using it at the same time for their goods and services. Is
it credible that Osho would have made a secret request for "protection"
to OIF, Zürich, while at the same time taking public action that would
make any such "protection" impossible?
Also, in his 2003 deposition in the trademark case Yogendra [D'Arcy
O'Byrne] testified that he had no knowledge of Osho asking for his name
to be used as a trademark and didn't know of anyone who did. (See The
Ever-Changing Story for details.)
OIF, Zürich insists that Osho wanted them to control all the Osho
centers in spite of lists of public statements by Osho that He wanted
all centers, ashrams, etc. to remain independent. OIF, Zürich insists
that Osho wanted OIF, Zürich to exert control over sannyasins and
centers in spite of lists of public statements by Osho that He wanted
no church, no religion, no Vatican, and that He would have no single
The choice of whether or not to believe claims of what "Osho asked" is
up to each individual on a personal level, but at the legal level,
these claims are simply hearsay. They can never be used to counter the
printed/recorded versions of public statements or to counteract Osho's
actions or choices not to act. Osho chose not to assign His copyrights,
name, signature, artwork, and so on, to anyone else. Nothing can change
2. "The Foundation"
OIF, Zürich loves to refer to itself as "the Foundation," as if there
is just one foundation involved in Osho's work. That is clearly not the
case. There are, and have been for decades, many different legal
entities, including those that called themselves "foundations,"
involved in Osho's work. In the US trademark case Pramod [Klaus Steeg]
testified that there were at least ten different ones operating in Pune
alone around the time of the name change. Several others have been
created since. There are many other legal entities dedicated to Osho's
work in countries around the world, including many centers.
In the US trademark case OIF, Zürich defined "the Foundation" to
include Rajneesh Foundation (India), Rajneesh Foundation International
(US), and Osho International Foundation (Switzerland). Pramod [Steeg],
in his testimony, kept referring to the actions of "the foundation"
without identifying which of these three foundations he was talking
In doing this OIF, Zürich was trying to create the illusion that there
had always been one primary foundation and that OIF, Zürich was the
recipient of all the power of the other two foundations. In reality,
the only assignments between these three entities are the ones in the
Copyright section. These conveyed nothing but a possible conditional
publishing license for eight books.
None of these foundations ever assigned any other kind of ownership
rights to each other and they never assigned any rights related to any
trademark claim. OIF, Zürich is in no way a continuation of any other
foundation in any other country.
There has never been one foundation that controlled the other entities
involved in Osho's work. (See What is
the legal structure of the Osho
movement?) Today there is not one single "foundation" involved in
work and no one entity has a legitimate right to call itself "the
OIF, Zürich has at times referred to Osho, RF, and RFI as its
"predecessors." Sometimes it refers to its former names (Rajneesh
Foundation Europe, Neo-Sannyas International Foundation) and the former
names of RF and RFI as predecessors too. This may be to create the
impression that OIF, Zürich has received rights from many places.
When pressed on cross examination Pramod [Steeg] testified that this
claim that others are "predecessors" of OIF, Zürich refers only to the
copyrights OIF, Zürich claims to have received in the documents
reviewed in the Copyrights section. He admitted that no one was a
"predecessor" of OIF, Zürich for trademark rights.
In spite of this, OIF, Zürich made several references to "predecessors"
in its trial brief in the US case, used in the context of predecessors
for trademark rights.
4. Ownership by Acknowledgment
Over the years OIF, Zürich has represented to others that it owns the
copyrights to Osho's work and that it owns trademarks for "Osho." It
now argues that because others believed those representations of OIF,
Zürich, that those others have "acknowledged" OIF, Zürich's ownership.
They seem to put forward some strange legal theory of ownership by
During the trial testimony in the US case, one of OIF, Zürich's
attorneys kept showing witnesses for Osho Friends copies of products,
like CDs, where OIF, Zürich claimed to own copyrights, and asking the
witnesses who owned the copyrights. None of the witnesses, of course,
had any personal knowledge about who owned the copyrights and couldn't
answer the questions.
The reality is that there is no legal theory of ownership by
acknowledgment. A copyright or trademark is transferred through a
written assignment or it isn't transferred at all. If someone convinces
others that it owns something it doesn't actually own, that deception
doesn't give the claimant any actual ownership rights.
If OIF, Zürich told a center that it owned copyrights and the center
relied on that representation, that doesn't mean that the center has
"acknowledged" that OIF, Zürich owns the copyrights. OIF, Zürich has
represented to St. Martin's Press, for example, that it owns
copyrights. It can't argue that St. Martin's Press has "acknowledged"
that OIF, Zürich owns those rights.
OIF, Zürich owns copyrights by assignment or not at all, and since Osho
never assigned copyright ownership, OIF, Zürich owns them not at all.
Centers, companies, and individuals that have relied on OIF, Zürich's
representations that it owned copyrights and signed copyright license
agreements are not in any bound by any way acknowledgment that OIF,
Zürich owned the rights now.
5. Offense Is the Best Defense
OIF, Zürich also tries to create confusion and distract attention from
the shortcomings of its legal arguments by making attacks on the
opposing party. In the US case these included unsubstantiated claims
about past publishing activity, trademark filings, and the private
activities of some Osho Friends members.
6. Questionable Documents
In the US case OIF, Zürich attempted to introduce documents related to
the testimony of witnesses subpoenaed by Osho Friends. Some of these
were documents the witnesses had no memory of seeing before. For
example, Dhanyam (Rosansky) was confronted with an alleged license
agreement with OIF, Zürich to produce T-shirts that he had never
produced. Dhanyam testified that he had no memory of the document,
could not authenticate it, and that he had not produced the T-shirts,
only sold them. (In spite of this, OIF, Zürich's attorney argued in
oral argument that Dhanyam has "acknowledged" OIF, Zürich's ownership
of "Osho" by signing the document.)
Later, Dhanyam searched his extensive files, and no such document could
be found. He also realized that the document produced by OIF, Zürich
was allegedly signed by him as "center leader" in 1991, but Viha had
been incorporated in 1989 and he had signed all documents related to
Viha as "president" after that time.
OIF, Zürich also produced another document that purported to be an
assignment of a domain name from Harideva to OIF, Zürich, an assignment
that Harideva is certain he never signed. When Amrito (John Andrews),
who had also allegedly signed this document, was asked about it in
sworn testimony, he said that he had never seen Harideva (Heiligmann)
sign the document and that he didn't have the original signed document.
(Andrews testimony, Q. 52–56.)
Witnesses appearing in opposition to OIF, Zürich in any legal dispute
should be prepared to deal with this kind of situation.