Friday, March 11, 2011


Published: Friday, Mar 11, 2011, 0:55 IST

By Manoj R Nair
Place: Mumbai
Agency: DNA

The Salesian priests who run the Don Bosco educational institutions, including a school in Mumbai, have lost the ownership of the title ‘Don Bosco’ to a trust in Madhya Pradesh that has registered the name as its own.

After the trust published a legal notice in newspapers claiming they own the title, the Salesians have consulted their lawyers to start a legal fight to get it back.

Father Louis Kumpiluvelil, Delhi-based secretary of Don Bosco Institutions in India said, “We were in the process of getting the trade mark. Our lawyers even told us that we could use the initials ‘TM’ to show that we own the trademark. But now, others have obtained it. We will use legal means to get the trade mark back.”

The Salesian order was founded in the 19th century by an Italian priest named John (Don) Bosco. The group, which has nearly 20,000 priests and workers, works largely with underprivileged children and youth.

Though the order came to India over a century ago and now runs hundreds of educational institutions and shelters for street children, they thought of registering their name only in 2010 after some organisations inquired if they could start a school with the title ‘Don Bosco’.

“We said no. But it seem that they have quietly done it,” said Father Michael Fernandes, head of the Mumbai Salesian province.

The owner of the title ‘Don Bosco’ is now Don Bosco Educational Trust in Chindwara run by a man named Don Bosco. The trust said it has registered the title with rights under the Trade Marks Act 1999.

“I registered the title many years ago. If I did not, somebody else would. I have respect for the Salesians and I have studied in institutions run by them. But other people not connected to the church or the Christian community are running schools using the name,” said Bosco, who added that he has sent a legal notice to a Bangalore-based trust that was running educational institutions by that name.

Father Fernandes said, “(In such cases), it depends on who applies first for the title. We have been running educational institutions for nearly 100 years in India and never thought of patenting our name.”

Community groups said they were shocked to see that such a respected organisation has to fight for the ownership of its title. Joseph Dias of the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) said, “This is like cyber squatting where a group steals the name of a famous organisation and claims it as its own. Whatever his (the title owner’s) intentions are, this is nothing short of misrepresentation and it is effectively committing fraud on gullible parents, who are bound to be misled.”

The trust said that they will allow the Salesians to use the title ‘concurrently “on the condition that they will not put it to commercial use.”

But the Salesians have no plans to request the trust to use their own name. “We will fight to get the title back,” said Father Fernandes.

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