Missionaries of Charity copyright blue and white sari

The Missionaries of Charity have patented the white and blue sari designed by Saint Teresa of Calcutta, obtaining a legal copyright recognising the pattern as the intellectual property of the order.

Jul 11, 2017

By Elise Harris
The Missionaries of Charity have patented the white and blue sari designed by Saint Teresa of Calcutta, obtaining a legal copyright recognising the pattern as the intellectual property of the order.

Although it was never officially announced, the copyright had been granted the same day as Mother Teresa’s Sept 4, 2016 canonisation as the culmination of a three year legal process.

According to the Press Trust of India, intellectual property attorney Biswajit Sarkar said that “the blue-designed border on the sari worn by nuns of Missionaries of Charity was recognised as Intellectual Property for the organisation on September four, 2016, the day the Mother was canonised.”

“The Missionaries of Charity do not believe in publicity and, as such, it was not publicised,” he said, while stressing that “we are witnessing unscrupulous and unfair usage of the design across the globe” and so are trying “to spread awareness among people about the trademark.”

The sari, which is the habit of the Missionaries of Charity sisters, was designed by Mother Teresa when she went to the streets in 1948 to serve the poor. It is white with three blue stripes, the outer stripe being larger than the inner two.

Mother Teresa’s blue border pattern “is a distinctive symbolic identity of (the) Missionaries of Charity under the concept of colour trade mark protection,” Sarkar said.

The sisters sent their application to the Trade Marks Registry of the Indian government in December 2013 and, after a three-year “stringent test of legal proceedings,” the copyright registration was granted to coincide with the same day as Mother Teresa’s canonisation, despite the fact that it was a Sunday.

According to Sarkar, the copyright of the pattern of the saris worn by the Missionaries of Charity is unique, and marks the first time a uniform has been protected under intellectual property rights.

In an explanation of the meaning of the saris on the Missionaries of Charity website, Sr Gertrude, the second nun to join the Missionaries of Charity after their foundation and, who has since deceased, reflected on the symbolism of the design and how it came about.--CNA

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