1 November 2013

Trade Marks "tactics": Iraq and Kurdistan Region

Many readers of this blog will be aware that the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq has its own Trade Marks Office. This operates from the regional capital of Erbil.

This is in addition to the Federal Iraqi Trade Marks Office in Baghdad.

Registration for the Kurdistan Region can be obtained in two ways: purely local filing or an extension of a registered Federal Iraqi registration. The Kurdistan Region operates a trade mark law which is the same as that operated from the Federal Office in Baghdad.

Federal registration in Iraq should cover the whole country including the Kurdistan Region. Many brand owners may not therefore register locally in Iraq. An analogy to this would be that brand owners would not tend to register a Federal trademark in the USA and then separately a State registration in, say, Florida.

However, there are advantages of registering in the Kurdistan Region. This could be in addition to a Federal Iraqi application or not - if the Kurdistan Region is the only part of Iraq that is commercially attractive to a brand owner then they could concentrate on registering a trade mark there only.

There are two main advantages to registering in the Kurdistan Region. Firstly, there is the opportunity that the local authorities may watch locally registered marks at the Customs they are responsible for.

Secondly, registration is far quicker in Kurdistan Region than at the Office in Baghdad. The latter has an historic Register and one where many files have gone missing. Delays here can be long.

The Office in Erbil runs far more smoothly. They have recently announced plans to speed up their procedures by publishing applications received up to the 25th of each month by the end of the same month. Judging by the latest Bulletin they are certainly moving things forward quickly.

If they are not already, brand owners should consider the direct filing route in Kurdistan Region for optimum protection of their trademarks in Iraq.

Lastly, I should mention that Kurdistan, "the Land of the Kurds", is a loosely defined region covering parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. It is only in Iraq where the Kurds have autonomy and a separate Trade Marks Office. Protection of trade marks to the other areas of Kurdistan must be made through applications at the central Trade Marks Offices of Iran, Syria and Turkey, or through Madrid Protocol designations of the same.

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