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February 14, 2007

Facts that American Institute’s  advertisement hides

The CFA Institute’s advertisement published in Times of India and Economic Times on February 12, 2007 contains several overstatements and distortions intended to confuse the Public, investment community and students.  This press release is primarily intended to provide the facts the American Institute is hiding.

Overreaching claims on Trademarks Protection

The advertisement of CFA Institute claims that its brand is protected by trademark registrations and applications in more than 80 countries.  This is a misleading claim.  Just submitting an application for trademark does not establish any rights or protection for Trade marks. The application has to be examined by the Trade mark authorities and registered after successful defense against any opposition to the mark. In UK, the CFA Institute lost its case for the trademark “Chartered Financial Analyst” as recently as October 2006. (UK Judgment link: http://www.patent.gov.uk/tm/t-decisionmaking/t-challenge/t-challenge-decision-results/o31506.pdf).  The CFA Institute is  an association  of private individuals/ members and does not have any statutory backing.  Hence the UK Trademark authority refused the registration on the grounds that use of words “Chartered “will mislead the public to believe that CFA Institute is creation of royal charter or any legislative action of any sovereign government. In India all the Trade marks of CFA Institute are under dispute and decisions of Trade mark authorities are pending. In Canada the CFA Institute does not have exclusive rights on the words “Chartered Financial Analyst”.   In most of the claimed 80 countries, the trademark applications of CFA Institute are pending and not registered.

CFA Brand is built by ICFAI in India

ICFAI introduced and popularized its own CFA program in India over the past 22 years and is the first user in India. The American institute at that time was an unknown entity in India and in fact whatever limited visibility the American Institute has got in India, is largely because of its past association with ICFAI. Over these 22 years, ICFAI’s CFA program has gained respect and wide recognition by most of the employers, particularly from the financial sector, and regulators in India. Issues relating to ownership of Trade marks, being legal in nature, are to be decided by the Trade mark registry and courts in India after due examination and complete trial, which has yet to begin. The American institute can not match ICFAI In terms of reach, market penetration and recognition by the student community and employers in India for the quality and relevance of the educational programs. Hence it is no surprise that CFA Institute unable to compete with ICFAI, is resorting to such gimmicks to gain visibility, probably out of sheer desperation. 

Facts on the Court orders

On the court orders also the CFA Institute is conveniently suppressing the material facts for serving its commercial interests. Regrettably, a misleading and false picture has been given of the litigation which does not even involve The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India University, Tripura but involves ICFAI, CCFA and CFA Institute, USA. The interim injunction order has been obtained only against ICFAI and CCFA and is not even operative at present.  The interim injunction is just an interim order, not the final order and the regular trial has yet to begin. In fact, the Interim order categorically states that “However, this order of injunction will not come into affect till the end of current academic session of the CFA program run by the Defendants. Nor will anything said herein will mean final expression of opinion of this Court.” The order has been challenged by ICFAI and CCFA in the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi which after issuing notice, despite objections  by the American institute, has listed the matter for hearing in March, 2007.

A reference is also made to a US Court Order. This refers to a “default” (ex-parte) order passed in 1998, at a time when due to the prevailing Foreign Exchange regulations in India, Icfai was not able to engage an attorney at USA and represent its case. Icfai has moved its application to the US Court to dismiss the “default” order and permit a hearing for a reasoned order after trial. Even this has been objected to by the American Institute, as they, probably, do not want to risk a fair trial even in USA.

The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India University created through legislative action

The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India University is an independent entity created through legislative action by the State of Tripura and approved by UGC under SEC 2 F. The University is not a party to trademark dispute with the CFA Institute, USA and has been mandated by the legislation to offer the CFA Program and award CFA Charter.  It is amusing, to say the least, to note that the American Institute expects an sovereign body like a State Legislature of India to obtain an authorization from an American association of private members for carrying out the legislative function.

Real Motive

Ultimately as far as the advertisement issued by CFA Institute, we see it is trying to achieve what it cannot achieve by going through the rightful legal process or on the strength of the quality its own program. The growing global reputation of ICFAI and wide recognition and acceptance of its high quality programs is unnerving the American Institute. It seems to be following the age old tactics of “if you can’t convince, confuse” and trying to mislead the public and investment community. But we are confident that the public can see through the game..  ICFAI is a reputed institution known in India for high quality education programs. And ICFAI will certainly not do anything which is illegal, not permitted by law. However it will do all things legally necessary to protect its interests and that of its students.


R S Prasad
Sr Manager – Media Communications
09908 383338