Far from being just a mysterious realm of long gone times – as it is so beautifully depicted in the known folk stories of the 1001 Nights, nowadays the Arabic world is often but one-sidedly associated with the more extreme sides of life, be it through the gargantuan economic wealth accumulated by some oil states, or the difficult aftermath of the Arab Spring.
A less biased scrutiny shows yet another interesting facet to the observer: that of a slowly but steadily growing economy, intent on leaving oil-dependency behind. Especially since the turn of the millennium, more and more public and private resources and efforts have in fact been put into R&D (in other words, patents) and a variety of small and medium sized business startups (ie, trademarks), both for manufacture (for example for construction) and services (such as telecommunications). This tendency is aligned with an increase in buying power and growing brand awareness among local consumers, who look for famous foreign assets in their own home market.
Arabic is officially spoken in 27 countries, either as the only language (16 countries), the second official language (eight countries) or even a third official language (three countries). The 27 countries are: Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Sahrawi, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. These 27 countries have a population of around 450 million inhabitants, about 50% of whom are under 25 years of age.
Challenges for trademark owners
Foreign brand owners have long struggled to protect their IP rights properly in one of today’s most challenging economic environments – by and large united by religion and language, but at the same time heterogenic through its different cultural and historical local peculiarities. As in other “multi-font” territories (such as China, India, Japan, and Russia), trademark owners often face the necessity to file verbal trademarks twice: in Latin and Arabic characters. This poses the question of whether to follow a literal translation or phonetic transposition of the mark into the new language.
To read the full article, please view the PDF attached (as published in the The Trademark Lawyer magazine).
You can also find the Arabic version of the article here.