News & insights

GCC: A Glance at the New Trademark Law

February 1, 2007

The Gulf Cooperation Council GCC announced at the end of the 27th summit of the GCC’s Supreme Council, held in Saudi Arabia on December 9 and 10, 2006, the approval of a unified GCC Trademarks Law, which will enter into force on December 10, 2006 but will only be effective once the implementing regulations are drafted and issued by the GCC Trade Cooperation Committee (made up of the Trade Ministers of the member states). The purpose of the GCC Trademarks Law is to replace the local trademarks laws of each of the GCC member states and, thereby, creating unified implementing regulations for trademark protection in all member states. However, the GCC Trademarks Law does not offer for a unified filing system as is the case with the GCC Patent Law. Trademark applications will continue to be filed separately in each GCC member state for protection.

It is also worth noting that the GCC Trademarks Law was initially submitted by the GCC General Secretariat and approved by the Trade Cooperation Committee back in 1987. Since then, the Law has been used by the GCC member states for consultative purposes only. By the end of the year 2005, the GCC Trade Cooperation Committee approved amendments to certain articles of the unified Trademarks Law and recommended the submission of the amendments to the GCC Supreme Council for endorsement.

In what follows, we list the main features of the Trademarks Law as approved by the GCC Supreme Council:
1. The definition of a trademark has been broadened to include sound and smell marks.
2. A trademark may be individual or collective.
3. A separate application is required for each class.
4. Claim of priority, based on an earlier-filed foreign application, is possible.
5. Trademark applications accepted by the Registrar will be published for opposition purposes. Oppositions must be filed within 60 days from publication date.
6. Trademark registrations are valid for 10 years from filing date and are renewable for like periods. There is a grace period of six months for late renewals.
7. A trademark is vulnerable to cancellation by any interested party if there has been no effective use of the mark for a period of five consecutive years after registration.
8. The Law shall recognize famous trademarks that are well-known in the GCC member states and shall ensure protection thereof even if the marks are not registered.
9. The Law gives the right to trademark owners to initiate civil and criminal actions against any infringing party. Penalties include a maximum of five year imprisonment and payment of fines of up to US $ 270,000.

Further developments in the subject matter will be reported in due course. Should you have any questions, or require any additional information, please contact us at news@sabaip.com