Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/24/gandhi_pen/

Montblanc's Gandhi pen run out

Indian court mulls legality of luxury writing device

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 24th February 2010 15:03 GMT

Luxury pen maker Montblanc has suspended sales of its £16k* Mahatma Gandhi fountain pen pending an Indian court decision as to whether it's legit to punt the extravagantly-priced writing device.

The release of the limited-edition pen last year prompted a chorus of protests in India, despite Montblanc's assertion that it was "creating a thing of simplicity and beauty that will last for centuries".

Amit Modi, secretary of the 102-year-old Sabarmati Ashram founded by Gandhi, wasn't that impressed. He insisted that if the man himself had received the pen, he "would have thrown it away". He protested: "I cannot imagine why anybody has done this. We cannot recognise this.”

The Centre for Consumer Education in Kerala weighed in by filing a lawsuit arguing that the pen breaches "a 1950 Indian law prohibiting the improper use of emblems and names", the BBC explains.

The court in Kerala state is now mulling the pen's legality. Pankaj Shah, of Montblanc's Indian distributor, confirmed to the BBC: "We have agreed to stop selling the pen until the court decides on the matter."

Shah did say that 42 of the 70 pens available in India - of a total edition of 241 "reflecting the number of miles Gandhi walked in his famous march against salt taxes in 1930" - had already been sold.

That's good news for Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar, who endorsed the product and received £91,500 to fund the building of a shelter for rescued child labourers. His charitable foundation also gets between £130 and £650 per unit shifted. ®

Blancnote

*£16k says the Beeb, £14,400 according to reports last year.