Pursuant to Circular no. 36838 of 2017, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority announced that pharmaceutical companies are now required to provide the Arabic translation of the Summary of Product Characteristics and the Patient Information Leaflet for all drugs they produce. Seeing that the use of 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 trademark in Arabic.

While the transliteration of the mark is protected, likelihood of confusion is easier to prove when comparing marks in the same language, i.e. Arabic in the case of Saudi Arabia. Having said that, registering trademark in the transliterated Arabic script, in addition to their original Latin format, is advisable considering that Saudi Arabia is governed by civil law—that is, the concept of first-to-file carries considerable weight.

This news follows the SFDA’s ongoing project of maintaining an extensive database that is used to approve and license medicines and allow them to be prescribed. This is indicative of Saudi Arabia’s motivation and commitment to achieving its goal of creating a knowledge-based economy, which will ultimately promote the creation of a research and development community.

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