Monday, April 17, 2017

More than 120 commercial establishments in Jordan recently received a warning for not including the Arabic rendition of their marks on the signboards. This comes pursuant to the provisions of Article 5 of Law no. 35 of 2015 for the protection of the Arabic language. The Article allows for the use of a language on the signboards other than Arabic, as long as the Arabic part appears in a more prominent and significantly larger font. The scales, however, are not explicitly identified in the Law. It is worth noting that violations will be subject to fines ranging between US$1,400 and US$4,200.

Seeing that use of a mark in Arabic is not a matter of choice but is a statutory requirement governed by local regulations, it becomes advisable to register the transliteration in the local script in class 35, in addition to the registration in the Latin version. Clearly, a key disadvantage of filing an Arabic trademark is the additional costs of clearance and registration. However, the benefits of protecting a mark in Arabic outweigh the associated costs. Problems may arise when it comes to enforcing trademark rights against third parties using or attempting to register confusingly similar Arabic transliterations. It is always easier to enforce marks in the same language.

In addition to Jordan, other countries in the Middle East and North Africa that require the use of the Arabic script of a mark on signboards are Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

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