Why and how to register a trademark in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries

The Gulf Cooperation Council, commonly referred to as the GCC, is an organization formed by the countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The GCC is taking important steps in improving provisions in the trademark laws of each of its member countries to allow trademarks matters to be handled more efficiently and uniformly in all countries that compose the GCC.

For information regarding trademarks and services for any of the individual member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, please visit our individual country pages:

BahrainKuwaitOmanQatarSaudi ArabiaUnited Arab Emirates

Unlike other regional agreements that allow for a single trademark application and subsequent registration to grant protection in all member states, in the case of the GCC, in order for a trademark to be protected in all member states, it will have to be filed and registered in all six member countries directly. The GCC currently does not contemplate an individual trademark for all member countries, nor are there any plans to do so in the future. What the GCC is currently setting out to achieve is for the trademark laws and processes of all countries that belong to the organization be similar.

Therefore, although great steps have been taken to harmonize trademark matters in these countries, currently and in the future, trademark holders will have to apply for their trademarks directly in each member country of the GCC in which they want their trademarks protected. As a trademark owner, you may choose to register your trademark in one or more countries of the GCC. When filing a trademark in any of the GCC member states, you are not obligated to register your trademark in the other GCC member countries.

The key factors that GCC countries are setting out to establish may be subdivided in three main categories:

What can be registered as a trademark in GCC member countries

The definition of what constitutes a trademark will include sound marks, smell marks and single colors.

How a trademark can be registered in GCC member countries

Certified translations and transliterations of trademarks that are not in Arabic will have to be presented at the moment of filing.

Multiclass applications will be allowed. Currently, in some member countries, if a trademark is to be registered in more than one class, independent applications for each class have to be filed. With multiclass applications on the way, the costs of registration should decrease for trademarks that will be registered in more than one class.

Priority may be claimed when filing a trademark based on a previous foreign application.

Considerations as to whether identical or similar trademarks exist will not be limited to the class under which a trademark is filed. Confusing similarity also take into account trademarks filed or registered for similar goods or services even if they fall in different classes.

How a trademark can be enforced in GCC member countries

Protection of well-known trademarks is to improve in regards to what constitutes a well-known trademark. Well-known trademarks in GCC countries will not have to be registered in order to be granted protection. The translation of a well-known trademark will now also have protection.

Finally, once registered, if a trademark is not used for a period of 5 years in the member country of the GCC in which it is registered, third parties will be able to present cancellations actions against the registered trademark.


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