Trademarks: Rights and obligations in the Kingdom

Trademarks: Rights and obligations in the Kingdom

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With the expansion and development of mechanisms that provide goods and services to consumers, competition in providing the best has become the main advantage in the market. An integral part of this market is brands, which are witnessing an unprecedented awareness movement to protect merchants, companies, their trademarks and intellectual rights in general. Today we will discuss the most important obligations and rights of trademark owners in the Kingdom, in addition to the penalties provided for violating the trademarks law.

First, there are several cases that trademark owners should be aware of to avoid the cancelation of their trademark registration. These cases include the non-use of the trademark for five consecutive years without any legitimate excuse, as well as the use of trademarks which violate public decency or morals. Trademarks will be also deleted if they were registered based on fraud, incorrect or false data, and of course, if they have not been renewed during the last validity year.

On the other hand, the trademarks law also clarifies several guarantees for applicants when submitting applications, whereby the person who applies for registration of a trademark has the right to have the competent authority decide on his application within 90 days from the date of submission. He also has the right to complain if the registration is refused or was limited to a condition before the grievance committee during 60 days from the date of his notification of this refusal.

Moreover, in the event that the registration of a used trademark was announced by another individual or entity, the individual or the entity who used it before has the right to submit a written objection, where they can request cancellation of this registration within five years from the date of registration by the latter beneficiary.

In addition, a trademark owner has the right to submit to the competent department a request to transfer its ownership with or without compensation, by inheritance, will, donation, mortgage or seizure. The trademark owner may also license any natural person or legal entity to use it for all or some of the registered goods or services, provided that the license is in writing and that the term of the license does not exceed the original protection period specified for the trademark owner.

With regard to penalties, in the event of fraud by any means, the misleading of the public, placing with bad intent the trademark owned by a third party on one’s own products or using it in connection with his services, a violator shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than one month and no greater than three years, and a fine of no less than SR5,000 ($1,333) and no more than SR1,000,000, or one of these two penalties.

There is also a penalty for anyone who sells or offers for sale goods bearing a knowingly forged trademark. This will be punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than one month and not exceeding one year, and a fine of no less than SR1,000 and no greater than SR1,000,000, or one of these two penalties.

• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

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