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“Imagination is more important than knowledge” – Albert Einstein (100th Anniversary in 2005)

 

In the last issue we discussed two major Intellectual Property Rights namely copyrights and patents. Intellectual Property is based on the power of imagination and its protection is an incentive to creativity and they can be protected with trade marks and domain names as well. A trademark is a registered word, phrase, symbol, design or a combination of these, which identifies the source of goods or services. Examples of famous trademarks include the names 'Coke', ‘Zain’ and perfume ‘Amouage’.

 

Trademarks must be registered in the particular class or classes

based on Madrid agreement and Protocol for the international Registration of Trademarks system, which relate to the intended use of the trademark within a territory. It is also possible to register a similar trademark that will be used for a similar product provided that it will only be sold in a different territory to that of the original trademark owner. Similar trademarks can therefore lawfully be used provided they relate to different classes of product and/or the trademarks will be used in different jurisdictions and that they do violate the owner’s rights.

 

 

The law on trademarks, descriptions and secrets and protection from unfair competition in Oman is promulgated through the Royal Decree 38/2000. Article 33 of this law protects trade secrets. Trademarks registration in Oman can be done through any IPR legal service firm with the Department of Agencies and Intellectual Property at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This filing must state the Madrid classification under which the trademark is being filed. Signs that cannot be registered as Trademark under Article 2 of the Royal Decree 38/2000 are shown in the table.

 

Upon registration the owner is granted a certificate for his mark that includes a serial number, filing date, registration date, name, surname, domicile and nationality of the owner, authentic copy of the mark and a list of goods, products and services for which the mark is intended. Once approved and announced in the official gazette, the protection lasts for 10years and could be renewed further.

 

Besides, the trademark owner cannot license the use of a trademark beyond this protection period. Court can order the removal of trademark registration if it is proven that the mark has not been used seriously for 5 consecutive years without a valid reason. Forgery of trademark is punishable with 2years imprisonment or a fine of 2000 OMR. This decree also criminalizes the unauthorised disclosure of trade secrets and formulas.

 

What exactly is a Domain name? Every website and computer connected to the Internet has a unique Internet protocol (IP) address number, which is essentially the address of that website or server computer. Under IPV4 scheme, this IP number can be up to 12 digits long (E.g. 234.123.198.105). As this number is difficult to remember each website is also given a unique domain name.

(E.g. www.omantel.net.om)

 

 Second Level Domain (SLD)   omantel     
 
Top-Level Domain (TLD)         net
Country code TLD (CcTLD)      om

 

A number of practices that may be a potential infringement of trademark have arisen in the cyber world, particularly with the Domain names. The Oman Network Information Center (www.omnic.com) is the authorised body for registering a domain name under .om CcTLD for Oman. The use or registration of the domain name must not interfere with or infringe upon the right of any third party in any jurisdiction with respect to trademark, service mark, trade-name, company name or any other intellectual property right.

 

Omnic exempts itself from all responsibility for the verification of rights to a name and shall not act as arbiter of disputes arising out of domain name conflict. However, malpractices involving domain names such as those given below, also call for legal reprimand.

 

Cybersquatting: It involves registering domain names that include the names of famous organisations or products for the main purpose of attempting to sell the domain name to the owner later. The courts normally consider Cybersquatting as an infringement of trademark.

 

Typo Piracy: Domain names that are similar to the name of famous organisations or products but with a slight variation that might result if a user either makes a typographical error (e.g. colleage.edu.om instead of college.edu.om) or has incorrectly remembered the full address of a site (e.g. omantecknow.net.om instead of omantecknow.net) are registered.

 

Hidden Meta Tags: Here popular names such as 'Omantel' or 'telecom' are concealed in the code that is used to create the website. These words will not be visible to a user who is viewing the website.

 

If the user conducts a search using a search engine such as Yahoo or Google, they may be referred to the site even though it has no apparent connection to the user's search parameters.

 

In the next week’s column, we shall digital consumer protection. This is very relevant when the consumers are empowered to shop or to deal with businesses worldwide in the digital age.

 

SIGNS RESTRICTED FOR REGISTRATION AS TRADEMARKS - OMAN

1

Signs that are not distinctive or they consist of generic names of goods or products or ordinary drawings or images of such goods or products

2

An expression, drawing or sign that is contrary to public order or morality

3

Signs identical or imitations of elements that contain armorial bearing, flag or emblem or name, abbreviation or initials of the name or official sign or hallmark adopted by any State, intergovernmental organisation or any organisation created by an International convention, unless authorised for use

4

Signs identical with or similar to symbols of religious nature

5

Signs likely to mislead the public as to the geographical origin of goods or service

6

Name, surname, picture or logo of a third party without prior consent of use

7

Confusingly similar to another well-known trademark in Oman

8

Identical to another mark registered by a different owner

 

Last Updated (Tuesday, 06 October 2009 10:30)

 
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