UNCLE BEN'S orange becomes UAE's first single colour mark

United Arab Emirates

The Trademarks Office of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has for the first time accepted to register a single colour as a trademark (Registration 80022, April 12 2007). The colour is a shade of orange used by Mars Incorporated in connection with its UNCLE BEN'S range of rice products.

Mars has consistently used the colour orange (Pantone 021C) as a dominant feature of its UNCLE BEN'S product packaging, to the extent that the colour orange has become associated with the UNCLE BEN'S range of products. With the colour orange becoming a key identifying feature of the UNCLE BEN'S range of products and simultaneously a feature copied by competitors, the protection of the colour became particularly pertinent.

The UAE Federal Trademarks Law defines a 'trademark' as "anything which takes a distinctive form whether names, words, signatures, letters, figures, drawings, symbols, titles, tax stamps, seals, pictures, inscriptions, advertisements or packs or any other mark or combination thereof". Based on this wide definition of the term 'trademark' and the protection that Mars has secured for the UNCLE BEN'S orange single colour in other jurisdictions, the Trademarks Office accepted the application for goods in Class 30 of the Nice Classification in respect of rice and condiments. No opposition was filed against the application, which has thus become the UAE's first single colour trademark registration.

The acceptance and registration of the UNCLE BEN'S orange single colour trademark illustrates the Trademarks Office's commitment to the protection of trademarks and it can only be hoped that the UAE courts will take the same progressive approach to the enforcement of these rights.

Hoda Taysir Barakat, Al Tamimi & Company - Advocates and Legal Consultants, Dubai

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