Complainant Doestch Misled Swiss Authorities
For an update to this article, please read: “EU Intellectual Property Office Affirms OSHO Trademark” here.
ZURICH – On the 2nd of June, 2014, the Swiss Government Authorities of the Federal Department of the Interior (“ESA”) which oversees as Supervisory Board all Swiss foundations, removed the Board of Directors from Osho International Foundation (“OIF”), acting on a malicious complaint filed by Robert Doetsch, aka Swami Ramateertha, in concert with Alvaro Ruffo della Scaletta, aka Swami Chidananda.
After a first round of investigation revealed that the accusations made by Doetsch in his complaint were fabricated, the Swiss authorities in an Order from 12th September 2014, reinstated all board members, Michael Byrne, John Andrews, D’Arcy O’Byrne, Klaus Steeg, and Rudolf Kocher, with full authority to operate all Foundation activities. On November 24th, 2015, Ms. Helena Antonio, Director of the Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations, concluded the Board’s detailed investigation and confirmed its earlier rejection of all false accusations against the Board of OIF.
This latest decision by the Swiss Government authorities is final and puts to rest Doetsch’s legal maneuvering aimed at taking control of OIF: “As previously explained, the inquiries of the administrator and the ESA produced no evidence that the accusations made by [Doetsch] are in fact, correct.”Initially Doetsch had misled the Swiss authorities and had been given a “party status” in the proceedings as a former board member of the Foundation.
It should be noted here that Osho had personally requested that Doetsch resign from the Board which he did thirty years ago in June 1986, just a few months after his appointment.
The Supervisory Authority ESA in its decision noted: “Since the year 2000, the complainant [Doetsch] and closely related parties attempted to take legal action against [OIF] in different countries, with the aim to ‘bring down’ the trademarks and copyrights of Osho International Foundation…. The ESA was unaware of this background; the supervisory complaint … makes no mention of this, so the impression was created that the complainant was acting as an individual and not as a representative of interested parties….”
Furthermore and by way of example, Doetsch failed to inform the Swiss authorities that he was behind the 2010 legal action attacking the Foundation’s European OSHO trademark, which was personally put in place by Osho. Doetsch also failed to inform Swiss authorities that he is involved with, and supporting, ongoing attacks on the legal and international copyright protection of Osho’s work that is granted to authors by international law. These “omissions” changed the course of this legal action when the ESA stated:
“The response to the complaint does not only invalidate the raised accusations and allegations; the corresponding statements additionally place the complainant himself in an unfavorable light.”
As soon as the board of directors had been suspended, Doetsch and his associates publically encouraged people to illegally upload to the Internet copyrighted works of Osho, while spreading the falsehood that OIF was not longer able to enforce the copyright protection of Osho’s works. When this illegal activity came to the attention of Swiss authority, it immediately confirmed the Foundation’s ability and rights of “Enforcement of copyright and trademark and other intellectual property ownership…,” including taking the necessary legal actions against “those supporting the dissemination of such infringement.”
The authorities rejected in clear language all central allegations:
“As explained … the inquiries made … have not brought to light evidence of any unlawful conduct on the part of the Foundation’s executives.”
“[Doetsch’s] primary accusation … to siphon off assets for the benefit of the Respondents, has proven unfounded.” They continued: “…it was impossible to confirm the accusations made in the supervisory complaint regarding the improper use or even the unauthorized appropriation of Foundation funds by its executives. In particular, there was also no evidence of any criminal conduct on the part of the Foundation executives as insinuated on multiple occasions by [Doetsch].” Finally: “…the administrator likewise arrives at the conclusion that [Doetsch’s] accusations, particularly regarding any personal enrichment of [the Board members], are unfounded.”
Every accusation, however absurd, raised by Doetsch in these proceedings was individually addressed and rejected by the government body, using language such as: “this is false,” “it is not true,” “ESA had and still has no reason to believe” and “nor is there evidence.”
The Authorities ruled:
“Osho International Foundation thoroughly fulfills its purpose of spreading the teachings and messages of Osho,” according to the foundation’s statutes and the law.”
The ESA also commented on the fact that Doetsch repeatedly made false and misleading accusations which he also chose to publish in an online magazine, OSHONews.com, including fabricated statements regarding the Foundation’s tax status.
Particularly devious is that in his ongoing fight Doetsch had been concealing from both the public and the authorities that he was directly involved not only in earlier trademark registrations to legally protect Osho’s previous name by the foundation, but that he was also personally involved in the copyright transfer of Osho’s work from the US Foundation to the Swiss foundation in 1985 – when Osho left the United States. This was referenced to by the Swiss authorities: “It is also important to note that the establishment of the Foundation in 1984 and the assignment of the copyrights to the literary and artistic work occurred … in 1985, and thus long before Osho’s death in 1990.” Ramateertha’s (Doetsch’s) signature is on this 1985 copyright transfer document.
Also, from documents and communication provided to OIF by Swiss authorities it is evident that Doetsch attempted to challenge additional signatures on legal documents, once again making allegations of forgery, a pattern used consistently by Doetsch and his cohorts.
Over time, it became clear to the authorities that the false and baseless accusations against the Board were a misuse of these legal proceedings against OIF and its directors, and were created and continued by Doetsch and his group when they realized that their attacks against the Osho trademark and registered copyrights were about to fail.
The European Trademark case, initiated by Doetsch through Osho Lotus Commune e. V., tried to invalidate the long-standing trademark OSHO. In 2014, Doetsch lost this case unanimously on all counts at the trial level. Then in September 2015, he also lost his appeal on all counts, after a second board of judges reviewed the case and unanimously confirmed the initial decision. Doetsch has now appealed the decision to the European General Court.