The religious order founded by Mother Teresa in Kolkata, the Missionaries of Charity, which continues her work has trade marked in India the white, blue rimmed sari that was synonymous with the saint. The lawyer acting for the order has claimed that this is the first time a mark has been granted for a religious uniform anywhere.
Mother Teresa established the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 and it now has over 750 homes, hospices and shelters in 139 countries around the world. Mother Teresa died in 1997 and was canonised in September last year.
The trade mark was applied for back in 2013 and was granted in 2016 but has only now been published. As well as this mark, a mark has also been obtained for the name Mother Teresa. The purpose behind these registrations is apparently to fight organisations that are using a wrongly perceived association with the saint, often for commercial gain though the lawyer behind the registration has confirmed that even not for profit organisations and charities which infringe the trade mark will be pursued.
Charities who use either of the marks will apparently be pursued to ensure that the identity of Saint Teresa, and by extension the Missionaries of Charity is protected. The lawyer for the order said that if the order did not start to take action now it could lead to the marks becoming diluted and the order could suddenly find that they had lost their identity.
It is unlikely that we have heard the last of this story. Though these marks have been registered in India, the stated aim is to seek further registrations in other countries in order to extend the protection as far as possible.
This story demonstrates that in today's world nobody is immune from having to take steps to protect their brand.Posted by: in: News, Trade Marks