To prevent any misuse of the symbolic blue striped white cotton sari worn by Mother Teresa has been trademarked by the Missionaries of Charity. The use of the trademark makes the pattern prohibited for any financial use in stationery, textiles, social and charitable services, according to the Times of India. The application to trademark the famous uniform was made in December 2013 and the patterns were declared a trademark in 2016, 10 months before Mother Teresa was declared a Saint by the Pope. Lawyer Biswajit Sarkar said that the news never surfaced because the religious congregation was not keen on declaring punishment to defaulters and highlighting it. However, several incidents of people profiting from the products using the pattern made the organisation take a stand. “In one incident, somebody misused the trademark and received money from a donor in Mumbai. There are also people selling mementoes and memorabilia with the trademark and buyers feel that the proceeds are going to the Missionaries of Charity. We have also come across a book with the trademark on the cover, misleading readers to believe that it has something to do with the organization. We simply want to protect the identity of the organisation,” Sarkar told ToI.
Mother Teresa had bought the plain white, blue-patterned saris from M. G. Road in Kolkata in 1948. The border of the sari had two small blue stripes followed by a wider stripe. She got it blessed by Father Van Exem at the Sacristy of the Convent Chapel. Similar kinds of saris are now woven by leprosy patients of the Gandhiji Prem Niwas in the state and worn by nuns across the world.
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“It is important to note that Mother Teresa, before her death, had issued directives that her name should not be exploited for commercial purposes. Nor did she wish to be institutionalised. To fulfil her wish, we conceptualised the idea of protecting the distinctive blue pattern on the white saris worn by the nuns of Missionaries of Charity, under Intellectual Property rights. Missionaries of Charity will have the exclusive right to use the said blue pattern… It is the first time ever that a uniform has been protected under intellectual property rights,” Sarkar told the Indian Express.