After years of negotiation, the Gulf Cooperation Council states (“GCC”) have approved a revised draft for a unified trade marks law. This law will apply to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Some of these countries have already taken steps in order to implement the law, which could be in force within just a few months.
According to the law, trade mark rules regarding registrability, registration and trade mark rights enforcement will be applied uniformly across the GCC states. Nevertheless, different trade mark applications will be required with each country’s trade marks office in order to have valid trade mark registrations in each country.
As well as unifying the laws of the 6 countries belonging to the GCC, the new legislation will bring several novelties to the trade marks practice in the Gulf States. The most relevant features of this law will be the following:
- Forms of non-traditional marks will be accepted, such as colour marks, sounds and smells.
- Trade marks will have to be applied in a class by class basis. Therefore, multiclass applications will not be allowed.
- Trade mark opposition periods will last sixty (60) days.
- Trade mark registrations will be valid for 10 years. After that period, they can be renewed for subsequent 10 year periods.
- Trade marks will be vulnerable to cancellation for non-use if they are not used as trade marks for 5 consecutive years after their registration.
- Trade Mark owners will be able to initiate civil and criminal actions against third parties infringing their trade mark rights.
- Finally, well-known marks will have extra protection under the new legislation even if they are not registered. The new law also sets out guidelines in order to help determine what constitutes a “well known mark”.