Can gambling and casino trademarks be protected in Egypt?
As a predominantly Muslim country, Egypt prohibits gambling in line with the Qu’ran. However, the practice is not entirely illegal and the country’s trademark legislation reflects this. The Law on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (82/2002) includes no interdiction on the registration of gambling and casino trademarks. However, Article 67(2) of the law prohibits the registration of trademarks that are considered contrary to public order or morality.
While land-based casinos are legal in Egypt (there are more than 20 in the country and one on a Nile River cruise), the liberality of the Egyptian government regarding casinos is limited, as the Penal Code expressly prohibits Egyptian citizens from using them, stating that they are exclusively for tourists. Yet in contrast to the United Arab Emirate Trademarks Office, which considers casinos and related services contrary to public order and refuses to register corresponding trademarks, the Egyptian Patent Office does not appear to refer to public order or morality when examining gambling-related marks.
There are close to 100 valid national trademarks that identify gambling and casino-related goods and services in Classes 28, 41 and 43 in Egypt. In addition, more than 250 international registrations are valid in Egypt that identify the same goods and services. Of these national marks, 20% are owned by Egyptian applicants.
Although these numbers are merely indicative, they demonstrate two things. First, they show that the Egyptian Patent Office accepts gambling and casino trademarks without any excessive restrictions. Second, they illustrate that a difference must be established between the legal ownership of a right and the illegal use of the services related to the same right as far as Egyptian citizens are concerned.
As in most countries, casinos are strictly regulated and their number is closely supervised by the government – namely, the Ministry of Tourism. This poses an additional question in terms of trademark rights. Because the number of casinos is limited, many of these marks cannot be used in Egypt and are in jeopardy of being revoked for non-use. However, this must be mitigated by the fact that there are many online casinos in use in the country, albeit none of which are licensed by the government as online gambling is not regulated under Egyptian law. The question then is whether such use would be accepted by the Egyptian registry.
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