Representations of living creatures now registrable

Saudi Arabia

The Review Panel overseeing the Board of Grievances issued in the autumn a landmark decision removing the prohibition against the registration as trademarks of the representation (in pictures or drawings) of living creatures.

The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - the body in charge of monitoring the implementation of Islamic laws in Saudi Arabia - opposed many trademark applications that consisted of representations of living creatures on the grounds that their use and registration violated Islamic law.

The Review Panel's decision overturned earlier decisions by the Board of Grievances. The panel's basis for the decision was that failure to protect such representations as trademarks damaged (i) Saudi Arabia's reputation, and (ii) the interests of consumers and trademark owners. The board no longer considers appeals against the registration of such trademarks, provided that the representations are decent and not contrary to public morality.

This decision serves to broaden trademark protection in Saudi Arabia. It is also in line with the requirements for Saudi Arabia's accession to the World Trade Organization and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

Bharati Bakshani, Ladas & Parry, New York

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