UPDATE: KHYF/Kausthub Desikachar has uploaded in February 2018 to their/his website a document showing a trademark registration under class 44 for medical services in India, presumably in response to our article. The registration is still pending in India for class 41 which would be the one that includes teaching. The question of whether KHYF / Kausthub Desikachar is licensed to perform medical services remains unchanged. Is this legal?
On January 18, 2018, Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation (a for profit partnership in India with Kausthub Desikachar listed as a partner) and KHYF International (“an international non-profit based in Europe” with Kausthub Desikachar as founder (SOURCE: https://www.khyf.net/registry) sent out an email indicating:
“To maintain its authenticity, the KHYF, as an international organization, has copyrighted the term Viniyoga in over thirty countries and will ensure that its use is authentic and legally regulated.”
The registered trademark symbol ® is featured prominently on KHYF’s letterhead and at the top of Kausthub Desikachar’s website as “Viniyoga®”.
Below are our initial findings:
Improper Use of Trademark Registration Symbol in India
In India, according to The Trade Marks Act, 1999 the penalty for falsely representing a trademark as registered, which is not in fact registered, is:
“Punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years and with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees.”
When doing a search for “Viniyoga” at the Office of the Registrar of Trade Marks in India, the trademark search report indicates:
– Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation applied for the mark “Viniyoga” on November 15, 2015 under Class 41.
– The trademark application shows “objected” as the status, meaning that this trademark application hasn’t been approved (as of the date of this post), and thus the trademark isn’t registered.
Improper Use of Trademark Registration Symbol in the U.S.
In the U.S., according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office:
“Improper use of the federal registration symbol that is deliberate and intended to deceive or mislead the public is fraud.”
When doing a search for “Viniyoga” at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the trademark search report indicates:
– Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation applied for the mark “Viniyoga” on July 4, 2017 under Class 41.
– The trademark application shows that the status is “Under Examination”, meaning that this trademark application hasn’t been approved (as of the date of this post), and thus the trademark isn’t registered.
According to Wikipedia:
“The registered trademark symbol (®) is a symbol that provides notice that the preceding word or symbol is a trademark or service mark that has been registered with a national trademark office. A trademark is a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product. In some countries it is against the law to use the registered trademark symbol for a mark that is not officially registered in any country.”