The GCC Trademark Law has been a long-mooted initiative to standardise the use of Trade Marks across the GCC. The legislation has been long in the offing, however, and the delays have led some to doubt that the Trademark Law would, ultimately, be adopted by all GCC states.
The Bahraini government approved the unified GCC Trademark Law in February 2014 (Legislative Decree No. 6/2014) although the terms did not take effect until 29 May 2016.
Kuwait implemented its own legislation in December 2015, with Saudi Arabia becoming the third GCC state to adopt the GCC Trademark Law, with the terms effective from 27 September 2016. Qatar has also taken the initial steps required to adopt the Trademark Law but has yet to pass any official implementation regulations.
The aim of the GCC Trademark Law is to provide a unified system setting out, for example, the definition of a mark, the processes for multi-class filings, issues pertaining to exclusivity and setting out stringent penalties that can be applied for infringement. The Trademark Law does not, however, created a single unified registration body and therefore registration must continue to take place independently in each country.
In the three countries that have adopted the GCC Trademark Law, the issue that is most frequently raised is the issue of registration costs. Upon enacting the GCC Trademark Law both Kuwait and Bahrain significantly increased the costs of filing and renewing a Trade Mark. In Kuwait the cost of an initial filing increased by over a thousand percent to circa USD $1,035; while in Bahrain a more modest 400%+ increase to USD $1,725 was adopted. In September 2016 Saudi Arabia continued this trend, increasing its Trade Mark filing fees by 10 times to USD $800.
Oman and the UAE have yet to announce any legislation implementing the GCC Trade Mark Law in its current form, which suggests that there is still some way to go in establishing the GCC Trademark Law comprehensively. The reason for this delay remains unclear but at least one possible explanation is that the UAE, in particular, is waiting to see how corporate entities wishing to protect their intellectual property respond to the increased costs in Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia before enacting its own legislation.