Malayalees would be familiar with the website ksrtcblog.com. The website was renamed aanavandi.com after Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation had issued a legal notice to Sujith Bhakthan, founder of the blog, that he should refrain from using the term KSRTC as the Karnataka Road Transport Corporation has the trademark for the term and that using the same would be misleading for the public.
A few months back, Sujith was also asked by Antony Chacko, the then Chairman and Managing Director of KSRTC, to shut down the blog as he felt it was the unauthorised usage of trademark KSRTC. He also added that the blog should refrain from hosting content derogatory to KSRTC, to remove all the content in the domain and to refrain from using the mark KSRTC through the said domain or in any other manner. The Kochi Post had published a story regarding the same and also on Sujith’s reply, wherein he was very firm that he would in no situation shut down the blog and that his team was ready for a legal battle.
Though the term “Aanavandi’’ existed even before this, Sujith was the person who used it to popularise the Kerala Road Transport Corporation’s buses. The term gained wide popularity and the blog is now known as aanavandi.com. Sujith had also decided to rebrand the website and applied for a trademark for the word in February, 2015.
However, recently it was brought to his notice that the Kerala Road Transport Corporation has been provided the trademark for “Aanavandi’’ and according to the law he is no longer allowed to use the same for his website.
Sujith is now firm on the decision to use the term “Aanavandi’’ and wants to fight for it till the judgment is in his favour.
“As of now we have not received any notice from the Kerala Road Transport Corporation so we are still using the term ‘Aanavandi’. But I am sure that there has been foul play and the department that had applied for trademark in November, 2015, long after I did, got it in their favour. I was not even intimated about that and I don’t know if it is allowed as per rules,” he said.
He added that the former MD of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation was very adamant and that he was not convinced by the contents of the blog. This could be the reason why the former MD had written a letter to Sujith asking him to shut down the blog. Sujith claims that they only write what is true and that their aim is to inform the people of Kerala the real plight of the State’s road transport corporation.
“I can’t help it if they feel that the content on the website is offensive and against the department,” he added.
Why does the Kerala Road Transport Corporation need the trademark of such a word? Also, when the department is struggling to pay the employees, spending a huge amount for the trademark raises many questions on the motive behind this.
According to Sujith, however, it is a move to force him to shut down the blog, which he says is impossible. He says that it is his right to carry any sort of business he likes in India and that such an unparliamentary move from a government organisation was shocking and unexpected. He is ready to fight for his rights and claims that he will not change the name “Aanavandi”.
Main photograph by Arunjith A. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.