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Trademark Protection in the Kurdish Region of Iraq

Guiding Principle

The Trademark Office of the Kurdish Region of Iraq adopted the currently applicable schedule of fees of the Trademark Office of Baghdad by virtue of Ministerial Resolution No. 3306 dated on April 1, 2013. This decision became effective as of June 1, 2013.

Currently there are two Trademark Offices operating in Iraq: One in Baghdad and another one since recently in Erbil in the Kurdish Region. In principle, the registration of trademarks at the Trademark Office of Baghdad covers the whole country including the Kurdish Region. Nevertheless, trademark owners now have the option of seeking additional local protection in this territory at the Trademark Office in Kurdish Region itself. Owners may either choose to file new applications or to validate the registrations that they already have in Baghdad before the Kurdish Trademark Office was established. One fundamental advantage of having trademarks protected in the Kurdish Region (other than providing a central registry in this territory) is that the Kurdish Trademark Offices may start placing the marks on watch at the Customs, allowing for an ex-official border system.

The question of which route is to be considered in the Kurdish Region (validation or a new application) mainly depends on the particulars of the trademark portfolio in Iraq. Needless to say, if the trademarks are already registered at the Trademark Office of Baghdad, it would be logical to assume that validation at the Trademark Office of the Kurdish Region is the better option. This process would entail the submission of a certified copy of the Iraqi registration as documentary evidence. However, various steps are  involved in the process and because both the Trademark Offices of Baghdad and the Kurdish Region are involved in the implementation, delays are to be expected. Therefore, in some instances, even if the trademarks are already registered at the Trademark Office of Baghdad, choosing to file directly at the Trademark Office of the Kurdish Region can be preferable.

The bottom line is that seeking local protection in the Kurdish Region of Iraq cannot be assessed in black-and-white terms. There are no clear-cut answers to the questions of whether or not protection is necessary, or even the question of which route to pursue. This will all depend on the circumstances involved and on the level of risk that the business is willing to take. In short, protection in the Kurdish Region may be advisable in certain situations noting that the more solid the portfolio is, the better the position of the trademark owners will be in bringing an infringement claim in the future. Trademark owners should of course seek sound advice before they decide on the best route to pursue.

December, 2015 Tarek Jairwdeh
Meyer-Reumann & Partners, Dubai Office
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