India has finally registered the logos of the iconic “Toy Train” internationally as its intellectual property. The use of these logos anywhere in the world will now require written permission from India and the payment of a fee.
This move comes more than two decades after the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The DHR has the two logos, both of which have been patented. One has DHR in bold black, intertwined letters; while the other is a circular seal with a picture of mountains, forests and a river with “Darjeeling Himalayan Railway” in white lettering on a green background around it.
The Railways, before applying to patent the DHR logos, worked to restore the original artwork on old cutlery and the walls of the stations. Its archives were mined to retrieve the oldest available artwork, and local talent was used to create impressions and pictures. AK Mishra, DHR director, said some station buildings have the original logo. “Original documents and other items were dug out. The logo is India’s national property. We need to protect it,” he said. “We can now claim patent fees or user charges if anyone uses the logos. There is no fixed rate for this as such.”
The Railway Ministry in Delhi and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway office in Kurseong, West Bengal initiated the process of registering the logo with the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry in August. Both logos, as per reports, are over a century old and popular in world heritage circuits. They are randomly used on merchandise and communications materials by various commercial organizations in Europe, the UK and the US; even the West Bengal government has used it in communications and on merchandise in the past.
According to various reports, the claim was sent to the World Intellectual Property Oganization (WIPO), which is a specialized agency of the United Nations based in Geneva, Switzerland. It was made in accordance with the procedure laid down in WIPO’s Vienna Classification. It should be noted that there is a six-month window to register any counter-claims, following which the Indian government’s claim will receive international approval.
SK Chaudhary, Divisional Railway Manager, Katihar, Northeast Frontier Railway, said they have registered the logo. “Anyone who wants to use it will have to take our permission.” This will put the Darjeeling Toy Train’s “Iron Sherpa” blue steam locomotives of the Darjeeling heritage train on the same pedestal as the legendary transalpine Rhaetian Railway in Switzerland, and is likely to boost its recognition and prominence around the world.
Moreover, sources said there are plans to patent the logos of India’s other mountain railways as well, such as Mettupalayam-Udagamandalam Nilgiri Mountain Railway, the Kalka-Shimla Railway, and the Matheran Hill Railway.