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Salesians to win back name in court

Indian school proprietor disputes naming rights

Salesians to win back name in court
Salesian Father Michael Fernandes, Provincial of Bombay province reporter, Mumbai

March 14, 2011

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Salesians are to go to court to fight a move by a man in a central Indian state to trademark the name of Don Bosco. The man at the center of the controversy, who happens to be called Don Bosco, says the move is to protect the name of two schools he runs in Madhya Pradesh state. But the Salesians of Don Bosco are not amused. “This is a clear case of cheating and forgery and we will challenge this in court,” Father Michael Fernandes, who heads the Salesian Bombay province, said yesterday. Bombay province covers Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan states, besides Madhya Pradesh. No one can use this name on a commercial basis to run schools, he said. Don Bosco, 65, says he is a “Roman Catholic by birth, who happens to have the name Don Bosco.” He says he patented the name and registered it as a trademark to run his two schools. He said he was only trying to protect the name being misused by non-Christians. Bosco claimed a bishop, who he did not name, had blessed his two schools and that nobody had objected to it. He also claimed he first got the trademark in 1999 for the Don Bosco Educational Trust he established two years earlier in Chhindwara. He manages public schools in the saint’s name in Nainital in Uttaranchal and Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh. Bosco said he recently sent legal notices to three schools in Bangalore, Delhi and Vijayawada for using his Don Bosco trademark. “I have no objections to Salesian priests using the title, but they should not franchise it out to others,” he asserted. Salesian Delhi provincial Father Michael Peedikayil said his congregation is determined to get the title back. “We first heard of this man’s misuse of the name just over a year ago,” he said. The Salesians own 269 schools and over 200 technical and non-formal educational centers with the Don Bosco’s name in India. IA13622.1645
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