Oman has implemented the GCC Trade Mark Law with effect from 31 July 2017. As a result, Oman becomes the fourth member state of the Gulf Cooperation Council (the GCC) to implement or adopt the GCC Trade Mark Law. This follows in the footsteps of Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. As yet, the remaining two GCC member states, the UAE and Qatar, are yet to implement the new Law.
The implementation of the GCC Trade Mark Law in Oman came by way of Sultani Decree No. 33 of 2017, which was published in the Oman Official Gazette on 30 July 2017. Article 53 of the Decree states that the Law will come into force one day after the publication of the Decree in the Official Gazette, ie on 31 July 2017.
Decree No. 33 of 2017 also provides for Implementing Regulations to the GCC Trade Mark Law to be issued. These Implementing Regulations will deal with matters such as:
- the official fees that will apply in Oman under the GCC Trade Mark Law;
- supporting documents for trade mark applications; and
- the examination period for trade mark applications (the Implementing Regulations in Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia require an initial examination report to be issued within 90 days of the filing date).
At present, no Implementing Regulations have been issued in Oman, and it is unclear when these will be introduced. For the time being and until the Implementing Regulations are introduced, it appears likely that the Oman Trade Mark Office will continue to apply the relevant provisions of the old regulations (Ministerial Decision No. 105 of 2008), at least where these regulations do not conflict with the position under the GCC Trade Mark Law.
Impact of the new GCC Trade Mark Law
The most obvious immediate impact of the new GCC Trade Mark Law is that the period for opposing trade mark applications in Oman has decreased from 90 days to 60 days. This may have a significant impact on overseas brand owners which need to put in place a legalised or apostilled Power of Attorney before they can file an opposition. The process of legalising or apostilling a Power of Attorney can be lengthy, and brand owners will need to be mindful of the reduced time available.
Other changes that will apply in Oman following the implementation of the GCC Trade Mark Law include:
- a broader definition of a trade mark, with this now expressly including some forms of non-traditional trade marks, such as colour, combinations of colour, sounds and smells;
- the potential for the Trade Mark Office to accept multi-class filings;
- cross-class examination of trade mark applications;
- stronger protection for well-known trade marks;
- partial assignment and cancellation of trade marks; and
- stronger protection against trade mark infringements.
For further details, please refer to our previous article which is available here.
The introduction of the GCC Trade Mark Law in each of Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia has coincided with substantial increases in the official fees which apply in each of these states. However, until Oman issues its Implementing Regulations to the GCC Trade Mark Law, we will not know if it will do the same.
Oman has traditionally had lower official fees than many of the other GCC member states. With this in mind, it is reasonable to expect that any increases to the official fees in Oman will be kept to a minimum.
However, any brand owner with a significant filing or other project pending with the Trade Mark Office in Oman would be well advised to move forward with the project sooner rather than later, in order to ensure that the current official fees apply.
UAE and Qatar
The version of the GCC Trade Mark Law introduced in Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman was published in 2013.
Since then (on 8 June 2014), Qatar published legislation (Law No. 7 of 2014) paving the way for the current version of the GCC Trade Mark Law to be implemented. However, no further relevant legislation has been published in Qatar, and we do not know at present if or when the GCC Trade Mark Law will be introduced in Qatar.
With regard to the UAE, no legislation has yet been published to implement the current version of the GCC Trade Mark Law. It therefore remains to be seen how or when the GCC Trade Mark Law will be implemented in the UAE.