Requirement to provide Israel Boycott Declaration removed

Directive 4664/1, which was approved by the Syrian prime minister on June 4 2008, has removed the requirement that applicants provide an Israel Boycott Declaration in order to register their intellectual property in Syria. 
The Arab boycott of Israel came into being with the creation of Israel in 1948. Almost all members of the Arab League participate in the boycott, which bans all trade with Israel and the doing of business with any company that trades with Israel. An Israel Boycott Bureau maintains a list of boycotted entities.
In the IP context, applications are first examined for legislative compliance. Applicants may then be required by the Israel Boycott Bureau to file an Israel Boycott Declaration before the applications can proceed to registration.
However, since Syria’s accession to the Madrid Protocol and the Madrid Agreement concerning the international registration of marks in August 2004, rights holders residing in qualifying Madrid Agreement or Madrid Protocol countries have been able to bypass the Israel Boycott Declaration requirement by designating Syria in an international application.
Directive 4664/1 was introduced in response to a recommendation made by Syria’s Economic Committee in May 2008. It removes the Boycott Declaration requirement for all foreign first-time applicants (other than those listed on the boycott list) for the registration of trademarks, patents, designs and industrial drawings.
The directive regularizes the current situation whereby some foreign entities have been able to obtain registration without a Boycott Declaration (by means of an international application), while others have not. 
The new directive, which follows the introduction of improved trademark laws in 2007, is a further indication of Syria’s commitment to improving its legislative IP environment. Rights holders who have not previously considered protecting their rights in Syria because of the Israel Boycott Declaration requirement should now consider doing so.     
It will be particularly important to conduct pre-filing searches to identify any potentially conflicting rights. One of the consequences of the Boycott Declaration requirement was that third parties have taken the opportunity to register the IP rights that foreign companies were unable to register themselves. 
Jon Parker and Pamela Morey-Nase, Rouse & Co International, Dubai

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