A legal spat over copyright may result in AUM Shinrikyo being banned from using its own name or logo, following steps taken Tuesday by the cult's chief receiver.
Saburo Abe, the head receiver of the bankrupt religious organization, sent a warning letter to Tatsuko Muraoka, the cult's deputy chief representative, ordering the cult to stop using the AUM Shinrikyo name and logo - symbols that have struck terror in the hearts of some and continue to do so with rumors abounding of the cult's resurgence.
Abe's letter argued that copyright to the name AUM Shinrikyo belongs to lawyers who are trustees of the cult, and that the resurrected AUM organization - nonreligious in theory - is breaching copyright by calling itself AUM Shinrikyo.
Abe says that if the current incarnation of AUM refuses to abide by his demand, the trustees will take the organization to court.
AUM's activities would, at least superficially, be seriously curtailed if the cult were banned from using the name and logo, as well as publishing books written by its guru, Shoko Asahara.
The Tokyo District Court declared the doomsday cult bankrupt in March 1996, after it found the sect unable to foot compensation payments it was responsible for making to thousands of victims of its alleged gas attacks on the capital's subways and in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.
In the Matsumoto sarin-gas attack in June 1994, seven people lost their lives and nearly 600 were injured. Twelve people were killed and over 5,500 were wounded in the Tokyo subway gas attack the following year.
Following the decision, the cult lost its status as a religious body, which had hightened its taxation requirements. Its remaining assets, including the copyright materials, were placed under the control of the trustees.
Recently, however, a resurgent AUM has started to organize seminars and publish books written by Asahara, who is charged with instigating the poison-gas attacks and other serious crimes.
Many of the cult's victims, who are also its creditors, are outraged by the apparent resurrection of the cult. The trustees reached the decision to demand the ban after consulting with the Tokyo District Prosecutors' Office.
It is not normal practice for a trustee to stake a claim for copyright on materials held by a bankrupt body, as such a move rarely proves to be lucrative.
Several Diet members, organizations and local activist groups have urged that the cult be formally banned in the wake of its phoenixlike revival in recent months, but all such action has been to no avail.
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