GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
The Europe Trade Mark Law Reform: Lesson to be learned by the GCC C and its Unified Trademark Law
Paper Proposal Text :
The Europe Trade Mark Law Reform: Lesson to be learned by the GCC C and its Unified Trademark Law

Since the early stages of civilization trade marks have been evolving steadily, corresponding to social and economic needs at one historical point or another. The use of trade marks in the market place was considered a particularly important mode of commercial communication in pre-literate societies and societies in which a number of languages were used. It provided a concise and convenient way of communicating information about the goods to which they were affixed .

Despite the growing commercial and symbolic significance of trade marks in recent times, they are still best described as information carriers through which direct contact between buyers and sellers is obtained and maintained. In today’s consumer society, which is overburdened with increasingly subtle and artificial product differentiation, most purchasing decisions would be difficult without any feedback mechanism between the products on offer and potential consumers. Accordingly, producers need a symbol that is capable of providing this feedback by conveying the relevant information about the products to consumers, without boring or over-educating them. On the other hand, consumers need a symbol to guide their choice and express their preferences. To convey this information in an effective manner there must be a clear link with the producer, or at least the commercial entity responsible for marketing the product. The most convenient and effective way of establishing this link would be through the product’s trade mark.

Nonetheless, modern business and marketing practices are increasingly driving a change in the role of trade marks from consumer protection tools to investment protection tools. This significant change has created a deep tension at the heart of trade mark law and has hindered attempts to formulate a coherent body of law in Europe and in other jurisdictions. Therefore, and after a number of consultations, it was concluded by the European Commission that the current European Trade Mark system which was supposedly harmonised 20 years ago still suffers from a wide divergence between national rules and procedures, both among themselves and in relation to the rules and procedures applied by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM).

It was also concluded that the existing divergences between the national systems and the Community trade mark system (CTM) was mainly caused by the fact that the European Trade Mark Directive did not cover procedural aspects and that a number of considerable substantive law issues are not yet harmonised. As a result of these divergences, the accessibility to the European trade mark system is limited and involves a great deal of legal uncertainty over the registration and infringement criteria of trade marks. Such ambiguity poses a great threat to the complementary relationship between the Community trade mark and national trade mark systems which in turn could have an adverse impact on the competitiveness of European companies and the competiveness of the European Union (EU) as a whole. Accordingly, the European Commission decided that the European Trade Mark system should be reviewed to create a better legal environment for the changing economic landscape of the EU. This review has been going for the best part of the last 6 years and should reach a conclusion by the end of this year.

Despite the recent enactment of a Unified Trademark Law and a Commercial Transactions Regulation in the GCC, this paper argues that some of the suggested procedural and substantive reforms to the divergences within the European trade mark system, which will be highlighted throughout the paper, could be applied to the GCC trade mark system. Notwithstanding the obvious structural differences between the two systems, the validity of this argument is underpinned by the fact that both jurisdictions, namely the EU and the GCC, need to reform their trade mark system in order to create a better legal environment for the changing economic landscape in both jurisdictions.