Mukul Roy alleges TMC electoral symbol, Biswa Bangla owned by Abhishek Banerjee
Kolkata: Mukul Roy, one of the co-founders of the Trinamool Congress who recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Friday alleged that Abhishek Banerjee, a lawmaker and nephew of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, had got the party’s electoral symbol registered as his own with the trademark registration authorities.
Roy also alleged that Abhishek Banerjee had secured registration of two other important trademarks—Jago Bangla, under which the Trinamool Congress publishes its eponymous mouthpiece, and Biswa Bangla, the trademark used by the government of West Bengal for official activities of all its departments.
Mint had reported on 16 February that Abhishek Banerjee had applied for registration of the Biswa Bangla trademark.
Documents retrieved from the Controller General of Patents Design and Trade Marks show Abhishek Banerjee had in 2015 made at least four applications seeking registration of ‘All India Trinamool Congress’ (in English) as a trademark along with its electoral symbol—two flowers in grass—as his own. The party did not oppose the applications. Still, they were cancelled by the trademark registration authorities on technical grounds.
Records also show that Abhishek Banerjee has secured registration of Jago Bangla and Biswa Bangla trademarks. His applications for the registration of the masthead of the Jago Bangla newspaper, however, were not successful, again because of technical deficiencies, show official records.
Citing these examples, Roy alleged on Friday that the Trinamool Congress had become the preserve of the chief minister and her family, and that party workers were being exploited for private gains of the Banerjee family.
Abhishek Banerjee wasn’t immediately available for comment. The Trinamool Congress’s secretary general Partha Chaterjee dismissed Roy’s allegations as baseless. The chief minister supports the party mouthpiece financially, he claimed.
Atri Bhattacharya, West Bengal’s home secretary, said the Biswa Bangla trademark was created by the chief minister and it was given to the state government for official use. It isn’t anybody’s private property, he said.
“The state is weighing legal options against an organisation which has misused the brand and the logo,” Bhattacharya said, without naming who was responsible for the alleged infringement.
Official records show at least one of Abhishek Banerjee’s multiple applications for registration of the Biswa Bangla trademark has been successful and it was granted registration in May 2017.
In September this year, West Bengal State Export Promotion Society, an arm of the department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) filed a petition opposing the grant of registration of the Biswa Bangla trademark as an intellectual property of Abhishek Banerjee.
His application for registration of the Biswa Bangla trademark dates back to November 2013. The society under the MSME department also made an application for registration of the Biswa Bangla trademark in June 2014, but its application was unsuccessful.
The trademark registration authorities have taken note of the objection raised by the society but have not issued any order restraining Abhishek Banerjee from using it.
A leading lawyer briefed on the dispute over Biswa Bangla trademark said the state government is faced with uncomfortable questions because it is creating equity for a trademark it does not own.
“Though the state government is not paying royalty to anyone, it is nevertheless creating equity for the trademark by using it as the state’s most recognisable mark,” he added, asking not to be identified.