GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Intellectual Property Rights in the Gulf: A look at Trademarks and Geographical Indications
Paper Proposal Text :
For member states of the GCC to maximise the benefits of gulf created intellectual property there needs to be a greater focus on development, management and economic exploitation of their intellectual property, in particular trademarks and geographical indications. Processes of review to determine the scope and difficulties of the current legislations are essential in determining the adequacy of the intellectual property rights. In turn, updated and regionally apt reforms, as well as educational and awareness campaigns with incentives for research and development are needed to help provide a stronger platform for economic benefits to be achieved.
As members of the WTO and signatories to the TRIPS Agreements, the GCC states are required to abide by the minimal form of protections for intellectual property as set out in the TRIPS Agreement. The GCC has developed their own Trademark Law in an attempt to unify trademark laws within the member states. However, only 3 of the 6 states have domestically ratified the law to date. Various areas of difficulty include a lack of a single filing system, costs, differing interpretation of regulations and differences of enforcement and penalties within each country. Such hurdles are limiting the extent of which trademark protection can be applied. In turn, these hurdles result in a limited financial exploitation and leave the GCC states open to pressure from investing countries wishing to engage in trade agreements within the region.
In the GCC member states, geographical indications are provided for under their trademark legislation. However, for most, an oversimplified approach is taken with only a single article mention within their trademark law. While the members of the Gulf states are aware of the unprotected nature of geographical indications in the Middle East, most states stand to lose greatly due to the lack of knowledge, awareness and adequate laws of registrability, recordal and protection of their traditional, cultural heritage and national industries. Furthermore, a brief look at examples stemming from the region will highlight the rich untapped heritage of geographical indications in the Gulf and Middle East areas and their potential as an instrument of innovation-based investment allowing for products of Arab origin to access niche markets and set up monopolies on those products with an incentive for nurturing domestic talents.
It is therefore necessary and greatly recommended that in order for adequate development in the area of intellectual property to occur within the Gulf states, that review of the management systems and scopes of protection be undertaken. Changes should be modelled on countries with stronger intellectual property protection to allow for a more harmonized global presence and allow for the member states to entice foreign investments with a level playing field in trade agreement negotiations. As such, an audit of the states intellectual property rights will allow for avenues of exploitation to be discovered, utilised and maximised. While trademark law is in need of reform with a modernized approach to a simplified and unified process which affords a greater protection, the area of geographical indications requires distinct legislative regulations defining geographical indications, providing for their scope of protection and term as well as laws dealing with dispute resolution, enforcement and penalties. Without adequate protection, the exploitation of goods and services falling within these intellectual property rights are occurring with no economic or regional benefit returning to the GCC member states.