Aikido teacher demands money from Romanian Orthodox Church 

A Romanian aikido teacher has trademarked the name of the highly revered Romanian monk, "Father Arsenie Boca," and stopped the selling of all unlicensed products. The market for these products is believed to be worth 2 million euros annually.

Delia Budurca
Delia Budurca NewsMavens, Romania
Aikido teacher demands money from Romanian Orthodox Church  

 - NewsMavens
Arsenie Boca. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Father Arsenie Boca is currently under consideration for canonization by the Orthodox church, and according to estimates made by the Evenimentul Zilei newspaper in 2015, products with his name or image bring in about 2 million euros annually to the Church and assorted companies.

Claiming that he received the copyright legally, aikido teacher Daniel Gheorghe has stated that all items bearing the name of Father Arsenie, including those from the Prislop Monastery and the Romanian Orthodox Church, are illegal. Furthermore, all producers of these items must be licensed in future.  

In response, a spokesman for the Romanian Patriarchate has declared that "no private person, who does not have a family connection with Arsenie Boca, has the right to use his name in any way," and that the Patriarchate will undertake what is "legally necessary" against Gheorghe if he will continue to use the name as a registered trademark.

This attempt to make money from the legacy of such an important spiritual figure has raised questions about the intellectual property rights of historical and religious figures in Romania. The case is unprecedented, and it could become a landmark if the Patriarchate does seek a ruling.

Details from the story:

  • The Trade Mark "Father Arsenie Boca" was registered in 2017 at the European Intellectual Property Office by Additional Worldwide Care Service LTD 
  • Daniel Gheorghe, a 24-year-old aikido teacher in Arad (western Romania), is the holder of the "Father Arsenie Boca" license for Romania, which he claims to have obtained for free from the British company. He has already initiated action action those selling Father Arsenie products.
  • "Father Arsenie cannot in any way be considered a registered trademark or a brand. Father Arsenie is a spiritual personality, a personality of the Church, a national personality -- I would say, and I believe this claim is totally illegal. It is equal, I would say, with the pretense of assuming trademarks for Mihai Eminescu (Our national poet) or Mihai Viteazu (an historical ruller who first united Romanians in 1600) no one can hold the rights to a personality, even if they no longer live, except to the extent that there are inheritance or succession issues. But not otherwise", said Gabriel Miricescu, spokesman for the Deva and Hunedoara Episcopate.
  • Considered to be the greatest Romanian confessor of the 20th century, Father Arsenie Boca died on November 28, 1989 in Sinaia and was buried at the Prislop Monastery. 
  • Hundreds visit his tomb every day to pray. The number of pilgrims can even reach a few thousand on holidays or various feast days.
  • The "Father Arsenie Boca" brand has been strongly promoted in recent years, through a marketing campaign and with great success mainly in online and social media.
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