A few weeks ago, The Kochi Post reported about KSRTC MD Antony Chacko’s letter asking Sujith Bhakthan, founder of the website KSRTC Blog, to shutdown his site for the “unauthorised usage of trademark KSRTC”. The key demands made in the letter were; to refrain from hosting content derogatory to KSRTC in his website, to remove all the content in the domain ksrtcblog.com, and to refrain from using the mark KSRTC through the said domain or in any other manner.
Sujith confirmed to us about sending the reply and said, “I have sent the reply today. I am not going to shutdown the blog at any cost and I am well prepared to fight the battle legally.”
Sujith received massive support against the gag order from online forums as well as experts working on the area of Intellectual Property Law. Experts have opined that the operation of the website has been protected by the right to free speech under Article 19 of the Constitution and fair criticism cannot be a ground for shutting down the website. Further, the KSRTC itself had allowed the operation of the blog and given permission to take photographs of buses from the depots in 2010. Experts feel now it cannot be allowed to go back on its word.
Interestingly, “KSRTC” is not a registered trademark of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation. An application for registering the word mark “KSRTC” has been submitted by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation. A decision on the application is pending as the Kerala State Transport Corporation has raised objections to this demand.
Sujith and his website have been instrumental in popularising the KSRTC and its services. The term ‘Aanavandi’ has been coined by this blogger. Apart from the website KSRTC Blog, Sujith also maintains the website Aanavandi, which gives the timings of KSRTC buses. However, no demand has been made by the MD to shutdown this website.