Al Fayed to take on two Dubai-based firms

DUBAI — In what could turn out to be a controversial and interesting court battle, the Dubai Courts will take up hearing on a law suit filed by well known Egyptian business tycoon Mohammed Al Fayed, owner of the London-based Harrods Ltd, against two Dubai-based companies for using the trade name Harrods. The case is expected to come up in the first week of June.

By Mohsen Rashid

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Published: Thu 26 May 2005, 10:24 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:32 PM

Al Fayed has accused the two companies of infringing on international trademark laws in registering the companies as Harrods General Trading and Harrods Tourism. The lawsuit said this was illegal and infringed on the internationally known and circulated trade name of Harrods. The two Dubai companies have hired the services of lawyer Sameer Jaffar to take up their case.

Al Fayed, who has hired a lawyer from Dubai, said the registration of the two companies using the Harrods title was in violation of trade mark laws since Harrods was also registered with the Ministry of Economy and Planning in the UAE.

The business tycoon quoted extensively from the Paris Convention on Protection of Industrial Property Rights, to which the UAE is a signatory, Articles 4 and 17 of the Federal Trade Marks Law and provisions of Article 8 of the Convention on Protection of Trade Name to substantiate his claim.

The law banned registration of foreign trademarks of internationally known brand and fame, which transcends borders of the country of origin to other countries unless the original owner of that trademarks approved it. Sources said the two establishments were registered with the Economic Development Department in Dubai. While Harrods General Trading was registered on June 28, 2004, Harrods Tourism was registered on June 30, 2004.

Al Fayed, through his lawyers in Dubai, had warned the two establishments on February 5 this year to cease using the trade name and trademark of his famous London store.

According to the law suit, Al Fayed requested the Economic Department and Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry to strike down the trade name "Harrods" used by the two establishments.

Khaleej Times, however, learnt that the lawyer representing the two companies will argue that the registration of the two establishments was made at the Economic Development Department in Dubai on the basis of the fact that Harrods Ltd was headquartered in London, and though it was registered with the Ministry of Economy and Planning in the country, the activities of the two establishments involved tourism and general trading, which was completely different from the activities of Harrods of London.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Jaffar said he also had other inputs up his sleeve which he would use as surprise element as the case progressed.

Official sources at the Dubai Economic Development Department, however, said that in case of international trademarks, which cross the borders of their country, and are not registered, the trade name should not be used.

The sources said there were certain remarks regarding Harrods Tourism and the renewal of its trade license was held back till the matter was settled.

The sources referred to similar cases in the past regarding a supermarket which was registered in the name of a group of stores in Britain.

The latter (existing and operating in UK) filed a suit against the local supermarket and the court ruled in favour of the London-based chain. The local company then changed the name.

Asked as to how the two companies obtained approval for the Harrods name, the source said it could be an inadvertent error on the part of an employee, who probably was not aware of the trade name.

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