Kolkata:Â The West Bengal government has persuaded Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of the stateâs chief minister, to withdraw his claim on the âBiswa Banglaâ 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 ministerâs nephew had secured the Biswa Bangla trademark as its proprietor. Under instructions from the chief minister, government officials went into an overdrive to dismiss Royâs 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 stateâs own applications remained unsuccessful. Even so, it continued to be used by the state government and emerged to be the ârepresentative markâ 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 âattempted infringementâ. 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secretary of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) department, Rajiva Sinha, claimed Abhishek Banerjee had withdrawn his applications seeking registration of the trademark.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 departmentâs 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 Septemberâthe last day for filing objectionsâWest Bengal State Export Promotion Society, an arm of Sinhaâs MSME department, filed a petition opposing Abhishek Banerjeeâs application.
The societyâs 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 âextensivelyâ used by it from September 2013, and that it has spent âhuge sums of moneyâ to promote it. The state claimed its investments had led to âexponential growth of (the markâs) reputation and goodwillâ, and went on to allege malfeasance. It said the applicant (Abhishek Banerjee) was seeking registration of an âidentical mark with mala fide and dishonest intentionâ.
âThe controversy was the game changer,â 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.