Ma­mata kin with­draws claim on ‘Biswa Bangla’ trade­mark

Mint ST - - POLITICS - BY ARKAMOY DUTTA MA­JUM­DAR arkamoy.m@livemint.com KOLKATA

Move came days af­ter EX-TMC leader Mukul Roy kicked up a row over its own­er­ship

The West Ben­gal gov­ern­ment has per­suaded Ab­hishek Banerjee, nephew of the state’s chief min­is­ter, to with­draw his claim on the ‘Biswa Bangla’ trade­mark, days af­ter Mukul Roy, once sec­ond in com­mand in the Tri­namool Congress party, kicked up a con­tro­versy over its own­er­ship.

The state sells hand­crafted prod­ucts through Biswa Bangla stores.

Roy, who re­cently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, had al­leged on Fri­day that the chief min­is­ter’s nephew had se­cured the Biswa Bangla trade­mark as its pro­pri­etor. Un­der in­struc­tions from the chief min­is­ter, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials went into an over­drive to dis­miss Roy’s claims and set things right.

It ended with Ab­hishek Banerjee, a mem­ber of the Lok Sabha, writ­ing to the trade­mark au­thor­i­ties that he was with­draw­ing his claim. His let­ter dated 2 Novem­ber, in which he says he was giv­ing it up, was re­ceived by the Trade­marks Reg­istry in Kolkata only on Mon­day, show of­fi­cial records.

Ab­hishek Banerjee, who staked claim to Biswa Bangla in Novem­ber 2013, could not be im­me­di­ately reached for com­ments. His lawyer San­jay Basu de­clined to com­ment.

Ab­hishek Banerjee had made sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions claim­ing own­er­ship of the Biswa Bangla trade­mark. Be­cause of com­pet­ing claims, the state’s own ap­pli­ca­tions re­mained un­suc­cess­ful. Even so, it con­tin­ued to be used by the state gov­ern­ment and emerged to be the “rep­re­sen­ta­tive mark” of West Ben­gal, as de­scribed by home sec­re­tary Atri Bhat­tacharya in a press brief­ing on Satur­day.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing that such a mark should be ex­clu­sively owned by the state gov­ern­ment, Bhat­tacharya on Fri­day said le­gal ac­tion had been ini­ti­ated against an “at­tempted in­fringe­ment”. On Satur­day, he and the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary of the mi­cro, small and medium en­ter­prises (MSME) depart­ment, Ra­jiva Sinha, claimed Ab­hishek Banerjee had with­drawn his ap­pli­ca­tions seek­ing reg­is­tra­tion of the trade­mark.

Ab­hishek Banerjee was ahead of the MSME depart­ment’s ap­pli­ca­tion for reg­is­tra­tion of the Biswa Bangla trade­mark. One of his ap­pli­ca­tions was ac­cepted and ad­ver­tised by the trade­mark au­thor­i­ties in their of­fi­cial jour­nal on 8 May, giv­ing op­por­tu­nity to any­one in­ter­ested in the trade­mark to file ob­jec­tions within four months.

On 8 Septem­ber—the last day for fil­ing ob­jec­tions—west Ben­gal State Ex­port Pro­mo­tion So­ci­ety, an arm of Sinha’s MSME depart­ment, filed a pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing Ab­hishek Banerjee’s ap­pli­ca­tion.

The so­ci­ety’s own ap­pli­ca­tions have so far re­mained un­suc­cess­ful be­cause of the com­pet­ing claims to the mark, which ac­cord­ing to the home sec­re­tary was de­signed by the chief min­is­ter her­self and given to the state gov­ern­ment un­der an agree­ment dat­ing back to 2014.

In its pe­ti­tion, the state gov­ern­ment said the mark was be­ing “ex­ten­sively” used by it from Septem­ber 2013, and that it has spent “huge sums of money” to pro­mote it. The state claimed its in­vest­ments had led to “ex­po­nen­tial growth of (the mark’s) rep­u­ta­tion and good­will”, and went on to al­lege malfea­sance. It said the ap­pli­cant (Ab­hishek Banerjee) was seek­ing reg­is­tra­tion of an “iden­ti­cal mark with mala fide and dis­hon­est in­ten­tion”.

“The con­tro­versy was the game changer,” said an ad­viser to the state gov­ern­ment, who is briefed on the mat­ter. Be­fore leav­ing for London, the chief min­is­ter had made it clear to gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials that they should put an end to the con­tro­versy, this per­son said, ask­ing not to be named.

HIN­DUS­TAN TIMES

Ab­hishek Banerjee, Ma­mata Banerjee’s nephew and Lok Sabha MP, has writ­ten to trade­mark au­thor­i­ties say­ing he was with­draw­ing his claim to the Biswa Bangla trade­mark.

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