The Missionaries of Charity have patented the white and blue sari designed by St Teresa of Calcutta, obtaining a legal copyright recognising the pattern as the intellectual property of the order, CNA reports.
Although it was never officially announced, the copyright had been granted the same day as Mother Teresa's canonisation in 2016 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 4, 2016, the day the Mother was canonised.”
“The Missionaries of Charity does 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,” Mr Sarkar said.
The white stands for truth and purity, while the three blue stripes on the border signify the vows that the nuns take: the first represents poverty, the second obedience, and the third, broader band, represents the vows of chastity and wholehearted service to the poorest of the poor.
The cross sewn onto the left shoulder of the habit is symbolic of the fact that, for the Missionaries of Charity, Christ on the Cross is the key to the heart.