Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues (Print ISSN: 1544-0036; Online ISSN: 1544-0044)

Abstract

Covid-19 in the Concept of the GCC Trademark Law: The Emergence of a New Distinctive Sign

Author(s): Christiane Bou Khater

Covid-19 Indubitably, this new term is the most used designation all over the World in 2020. It is not restricted to any part of the society neither to any specific country or human activity or age; it is used by everyone, everywhere, in both real world and virtual platform. A quick search using the keywords Covid-19 and “intellectual property rights” (IPR), will mainly yield articles about the impact of Covid- 19- as a pandemic-on the protection of IPR and the measures to be taken by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or other entities-providing legal services related to intellectual property-to preserve the pre-owned IPR and the means of assuring the sustainability of this protection during this pandemic. Nevertheless, in addition to the necessity of preserving the protection of IPR during this pandemic, a need to analyze and study the legal status of Covid-19 is today eminent: the most used designation as an element of the IPR constituting a new distinctive sign (DS). In turn, this study will analyze Covid-19 not as a “pandemic” but as a “DS”. This study will be the first of its kind in the field of IPR paving the way towards the recognition of the legal status of Covid-19 as a new DS: this is vital knowing that the use of this term must be regulated to avoid confusing or misleading the consumer; such use has to be in conformity with the laws of the distinctive signs prohibiting illegal use as per article 3 of the GCC Trademark Law (GCC TM). This study will reflect how the protection of Covid-19 is recognized as a new DS and its relation with the GCC TM focusing on the International means of protection through Paris Convention and the European Law and mainly the French Law due to the similarities in the stipulations of the French Law especially with regard to article 3 of the GCC TM: in fact, article L 713-2 of the French Code of Intellectual Property enumerates, similarly to the GCC TM, the signs that cannot be registered as trademarks mainly those who are deceptive. The possibility of the protection of the Covid-19 designation as a DS will protect the consumer against any misleading or deceptive use of the aforementioned designation specially that the GCC Trademark Law has explicit stipulations in this regard as previously mentioned.