Copyright or Trademark cannot be claimed on Yoga asanas(postures)


Court :
Delhi High Court

Brief :
The Plaintiff, Institute for Inner Studies & Others, filed the suit seeking permanent and mandatory injunction alongwith damages against the defendant, Charlotte Anderson & Others in order to restrain the defendants from carrying out activities of spreading Pranic Healing teachings, techniques, practices and courses, or any other techniques, practices, courses and other teachings invented by the Master Choa Kok Sui (Master) and organizing and continuing to organize workshops, training programmes, seminars in relation to Pranic Healing without authorization from the plaintiffs. The Court observed that: "The novel processes, methods, principles, manner of performing the art or exercise are all the realm of the Patents and not the copyright. Therefore, without testing the novelty in any appropriate art or technique and giving the monopoly over the performance art or exercising techniques which are apparently preexisting in the ancient history of India would be a serious intrusion in the Public domain." The Court , did not allowed the Plaintiffs monopolise the word 'PRANIC HEALING' but prohibited the defendants from reproducing the books written by the Master in material form and also restraining them from selling or distributing the books, CDs, manuals and other trade literature. Important points: Manner of performing art or excersise are within ambit of Patents and not Copyright. Exclusive rights over exercises which have roots embedded in ancient history of India cannot be claimed.

Citation :
Najma Heptulla Vs. Orient Longman Ltd. & Ors., AIR 1989 Del 63 Academy of General Education, Manipal and Another Vs. Malini Mallya University of Cambridge v B.D. Bhandari & University of Oxford v. Narendra publishing House, 2009 (39) PTC 642 (Para 9) Open Source Yoga Unity v. Bikram Chaudhary, 2005 WL 756558 (N.D. Cal. (Paras 3-5) Super Cassettes Industries Vs. Hamar Television Network, 2011 (45) PTC 70 (Del) (Para 63) Church of Scientology International Vs. Enid Vien, 827 F. Supp 629 Exphar S.A & Anr v.Eupharma Laboratories Ltd., (2004) 3 SCC 688 Sopan Sukhdeo Sable & Ors vs. Assistant Charity Commissioner State Trading Corporation of India Limited v. Government of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh (DB), 63 (1996) University of London Press Limited v. University Tutorial Press Limited [1916] 2 Ch 601 Macmillan and Company Limited vs. K. and J. Cooper. AIR 1924 Privy Council 175 Eastern Book Company v. DB Modak, 2008(1) SCC 1 R.G. Anand v. Delux Films, 1979 SCR (1) 218 Designers Guild Ltd v Russell Williams (Textiles) Ltd., [2001] F.S.R. 11 Baker vs. Seldon, 101 U.S. 99 Feist Publications Inc Vs Rural Telephone Services Company, 499 U.S. 340 (1991) Baigent & Leigh vs. The Random House Group Limited, (2007) FSR 24 Open Source Yoga Unity vs. Bikram Choudhury, 74 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1434 BIKRAM'S YOGA COLLEGE OF INDIA, L.P. v. EVOLATION YOGA, LLC, 105 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1162 Marico Ltd. Vs. Agro Tech Foods Limited; 2010 (44) PTC 736 (Del.)

..* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

% Judgment Pronounced on: January 10, 2014

 

CS(OS) 2252/2011 & I.A. No.14617/2011, I.A. No.18553/2011, I.A.

No.20143/2011, I.A. No.20144/2011, I.A. No.20167/2011, I.A.

No.20762/2011, I.A. No.448/2012 and I.A. No.15808/2012

 

INSTITUTE FOR INNER STUDIES & ORS ..... Plaintiffs

Through Mr. Amit Chadha, Sr. Adv. with

Mr. Karan Mehra, Mr. Lalit

Jhunjhunwala, Ms. Bahaar Dhawan &

Ms. Chandni Goel, Advs.

 

versus

 

CHARLOTTE ANDERSON & ORS ..... Defendants

Through Mr. B.B. Sawhney, Sr. Adv. with

Mr. Dipak Kumar Jena, Adv. &

Ms. Minakshi Jena Ghosh, Adv. for

D-1.

Mr. Viplav Sharma, Adv. for D-2.

Mr.Sandeep Sethi, Sr. Adv. with

Mr. Mayank Kshirsagar, Adv. for

D-3.

Mr. Ajit Pudussery, Adv. with

Mr. Dinesh Khurana, Adv. for D-11.

Mr. Raghav Awasthi, Adv. for D-14.

 

CORAM:

HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE MANMOHAN SINGH

MANMOHAN SINGH, J.

 

1. The plaintiffs, (ten in numbers) have filed the present suit seeking declaration, permanent injunction and mandatory injunction alongwith damages against the defendants in order to restrain the defendants from carrying out activities of spreading Pranic Healing teachings, techniques, practices and courses, or any other techniques, practices, courses and other teachings invented by the Master Choa Kok Sui (“Master”) and organizing and continuing to organize workshops, training programmes, seminars in relation to Pranic Healing without authorization from the plaintiffs.

 

2. Plaintiffs’ Case

 

i. Plaintiff No.1 is a company incorporated in Philippines under and in accordance with the provisions of the Corporation Code of Philippines. Plaintiff No.1 was established by Late Samson Lim Choachuy (Legal Name), reversed as Master Choa Kok Sui (hereinafter referred to as Master) on 27th April, 1987 to spread Pranic Healing, Arhatic Yoga, Inner Teachings and Practices globally. The plaintiff No.1 is the head institution which controls the functioning of plaintiff Nos.2 to 3 and also the functioning of plaintiff No.4 to 6 established in India.

 

ii. It is alleged by the plaintiffs that the Master is a world renowned authority in the field of Pranic Healing and Esoteric Sciences, who adapted and systematized the ancient science of Pranic Healing. The Master was a spiritual guru, and an internationally read author of numerous books and manuals on the subject of Pranic Healing. The Master established plaintiff No.1 with primary objective to engage in and carry on business of distribution, publishing books and printed material, to conduct workshops, seminars, lectures on Pranic Healing and Esoteric Sciences across the globe.

 

iii. The plaintiff No.2 is the organization authorized by the plaintiff No.1 to issue licenses and certificates to other affiliates/institutions/organizations/ teachers to spread teachings of Pranic Healing all around the world.

 

iv. Plaintiff No.3 is a company incorporated in Philippines by the Master on 23rd July, 1990 in order to spread teachings of Modern Pranic Healing in the developing countries and poorer areas. The function of the plaintiff No.3 is to organize and provide training programmes, seminars and  teachings and to disseminate books, pamphlets and training materials relating thereto, to put up and maintain charitable centres for meditation and Pranic Healing, to extend relief to the distressed, especially to the poor and under privileged and in pursuit of the foregoing objectives “to undertake, support and assist related activities, movements and projects, on its own or in cooperation or coordination with other persons, association, entities, agencies and instrumentalities, whether private or public”. Plaintiff No.3 issues guidelines for the functioning of plaintiff No.4 and is also the majority shareholder of plaintiff No.5.

 

v. The plaintiff No.4 is a public charitable trust, which was established by the Master on 21st January, 1999 in Bangalore to assist the defendant No.2 in acting as a coordinating body for all Pranic Healing activities in the entire Indian Sub-Continent and to collect royalties due from the various trusts established in India under the affiliation of the plaintiff No.3.  vi. The plaintiff No.4 was earlier authorized by the plaintiff No.1 to publish all the books and CDs on Pranic Healing in India, which were sold to the defendant No.2, which in turn sold them to various state level foundations established all over India by the defendant No.2 under the affiliation of the plaintiff No.3. It is alleged that the plaintiff No.4 was authorized by the Master to publish some of the books authored by the Master. Royalties from different state level Pranic Healing Foundations established in India were paid to the defendant No.2, which in turn paid a portion to the plaintiff No.4, which collected the same on behalf of the plaintiff No.3.

 

vii. Plaintiff No.5 is a private limited company in Bangalore as a majority owned subsidiary of the plaintiff No.3 who holds 92% of the shares in plaintiff No.5 and Mr. Hector Ramos and Sriram Rajagopal each hold 4% of its shares. The objective of the plaintiff No.5 is to promote Pranic Healing teachings and related activities through agreements or by way of franchisees, to obtain licenses for all courses of the Master from plaintiff No.3 and to give these licenses to state-level Pranic Healing Foundations, granting them the rights to organize and conduct Master’s courses in India, and in turn pay royalty to plaintiff No.3.

 

viii. Plaintiff No.6 is a private limited company with the object of publishing books, other printed material such as posters, audio and video recordings of the Master and other authors, and to import and export materials connected with Pranic Healing. The plaintiff No.6 is a majority owned subsidiary of the plaintiff No.1.

 

ix. Plaintiff Nos.7 to 10 are the children and allegedly legal heirs of the Master. Ms. Christine Choachuy, the plaintiff No.7, is the eldest daughter of the Master and is also the President of the plaintiff No.1. After the death of the Master, the entire estate of the Master, including intellectual property rights of all over the world, has devolved upon the plaintiff Nos.7 to 10 under the operation of law. They have executed an extra judicial settlement of estate of the Master on 25th July, 2007 dividing the properties of the Master amongst themselves. The plaintiffs have thereafter assigned trademarks originally owned/applied for by the Master to plaintiff No.1 vide a Transfer and Assignment Deed dated 18th September, 2007.

 

3. In order to strengthen their case, it is alleged by the plaintiffs that Yoga Vidya Pranic Healing Foundation Trust, Cochin, defendant No.12 herein, filed a suit bearing Original suit OS No.1207/2010 against Dr. Joy Joseph and Yoga Vidya Pranic Healing Foundation Trust, Cochin, Kerala (which is affiliated to plaintiff No.5 herein) in the Court of the Principal Munsif, Ernakulam. In the above mentioned suit, the defendant No.12 herein being the plaintiff made statement about the ownership of the mark and copyright in favour of the present plaintiffs. The Principal Munsif, Ernakulam though refused to grant injunction however, concludes that plaintiff No.3 is the supreme authority to conduct courses to teach Pranic Healing. The plaintiff thus claims the intellectual property rights in the Pranic Healing Techniques/ Modern Pranic Healing Techniques.

 

CASE SET UP AGAINST THE DEFENDANTS BY PLAINTIFFS

 

4. The case set up by the plaintiffs against the defendants is that the defendant Nos.1 and 2 through the various State Foundations affiliated to them i.e. defendants No.3 to 14 are conducting courses, issuing certificates and selling material (books, audio, video) without due authority from the plaintiffs, in violation of licensing agreements and deeds of assignment which have been terminated and which have expired by efflux of time respectively. The defendant No.3 Pranic Healing Foundation of Delhi, has regularly been conducting Master’s courses in an unauthorized manner in New Delhi. None of the defendants have the authority to conduct these courses/workshops and both the terms Kriyashakti and Pranic Feng Shui are registered trademarks in the name of the Master which were assigned to plaintiff No.1.

 

To read the full judgement: Click Here

 

Novice Attorney
on 16 January 2014
Published in Intellectual Property Rights
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