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New law in Qatar for the protection of the Arabic language: using a trademark on local signs and advertisements

Displaying the transliterated version of the trademark in Arabic is mandatory in the country 1 October 2020

Qatar is readying itself to experience a period of great visibility in the coming years and represents an interesting business opportunity for many Italian and international companies. Amongst other things, the country will be staging the football world cup in 2022.

Despite this great opening that Qatar is about to experience in the near future, the country has recently enacted a law that aims to protect the nation's cultural identity by promoting the Arabic language.

The scope of application of this law is not exclusively linked to governmental bodies and public institutions in Qatar, with respect to which the use of unofficial dialects is to be avoided, but is also aimed at private companies operating in this territory.

Specifically – as regards trademarks and company names – article 10 of law No. 7/2019 establishes that all trademarks and company names of private companies must also be displayed in their transliterated version in Arabic when used on signs, advertisements, brochures and social media. Please note that this law is not intended to change the trademark registration process (in fact, no new Office filings will be imposed) but only the concrete ways in which these can be used.

It should be noted that this provision does not exclude the possibility of using the trademark in its Latin script version, but this should be done on condition that the Arabic version is placed in a prominent position and represented in more visible sizes.

The provision is therefore mainly aimed at those companies that have a store in Qatar, and whose trademark is clearly displayed to the public as a sign.

In the event of non-compliance with the provisions outlined above, a financial penalty of approximately 12,000 euros is provided, in addition to the removal and seizure of the goods deemed non-compliant.

In essence, in light of this legislative change, we recommen proceeding with the registration of a trademark in the transliterated version in Arabic characters in Qatar which will guarantee, in addition to compliance with the law in question, a broader and more complete local protection, able to prevent third parties from using and registering trademarks that are identical or very similar to yours in Arabic characters.

We are available to our Clients for the protection of their trademarks in Qatar, as well as for clarifications and insights on the subject.

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