The concept or nature of a 3D trade mark per se is not explicitly recognised in the GCC Trade Mark Law or other national trade mark laws in the Middle East region. In practice, this type of mark is very often considered as an industrial design and is not widely accepted by examiners or judges, except for Lebanon where there is no substantive examination of trade marks.

In Bahrain, an application for a 3D mark is not possible. As such, registration as an industrial design should be sought to protect a 3D shape. The same rejection will normally issue by the Trade Mark Offices of the UAE and Qatar. That said, these offices will normally allow the mark to be filed as a series mark using pictures of the 3D shape in different angles, which should afford a broader scope of protection than a simple device mark.

The position in Saudi Arabia is somewhat unpredictable. Applicants can submit trade mark applications with ‘3D’ mentioned in the description of the mark. However, such marks are not broadly understood and it is ultimately at the examiner’s discretion as to whether to accept such a mark. As such, there is a degree of uncertainty and unpredictability surrounding the fate of such applications. We have successfully prosecuted a number of 3D applications to registration in Saudi Arabia, but it is certainly not a given for all applications of this kind. The situation in Kuwait is similar in that the filing of a 3D mark is possible, but carries a risk a rejection that is hard to predict.

In Jordan, an alternative option for applicants to consider is filing a 2D design of the original 3D shape. However, a disclaimer is highly likely to be imposed to disclaim any generic external shape of a product.

In Egypt, we have seen the local practices change over the years. For much of the past decade or so, although we have found that initial refusals are almost always issued in connection with applications for 3D marks (usually on the grounds that the mark is an industrial design and not registrable as a trade mark), we have usually been able to successfully overturn such decisions at appeal before the Trade Mark Office. However, in more recent years, the Chancellors at the appeal board have started to become more reluctant to overturn such decisions. As for the Courts, the question around the enforceability of such marks remains largely untested.