As a predominantly Muslim country, Egypt bans gambling in accordance with the Koran. However, the practice is not entirely illegal and the country’s trademark law reflects this. The Law on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (82/2002) does not prohibit the registration of trademarks for games and casinos. However, article 67 (2) of the law prohibits the registration of trademarks considered to be contrary to public order or morality.

While land-based casinos are legal in Egypt (there are over 20 in the country and one on a Nile cruise), the liberality of the Egyptian government regarding casinos is limited, as the Penal Code expressly prohibits Egyptian citizens to use them, indicating that they are intended exclusively for tourists. Yet unlike the UAE Trademark Office, which considers casinos and related services to be contrary to public order and refuses to register the corresponding trademarks, the Egyptian Patent Office does not appear to refer to the public order or morals when examining trademarks related to gambling.

There are nearly 100 valid national brands that identify products and services related to gambling and casinos in classes 28, 41 and 43 in Egypt. In addition, over 250 international registrations are valid in Egypt and identify the same products and services. Of these national brands, 20% belong to Egyptian applicants.

Although these figures are only indicative, they demonstrate two things. First, they show that the Egyptian Patent Office accepts gambling and casino trademarks without any undue restriction. Second, they illustrate that a difference must be made between legal ownership of a right and illegal use of services related to the same right with respect to Egyptian citizens.

As in most countries, casinos are strictly regulated and their number is closely monitored by the government, namely the Ministry of Tourism. This poses an additional question in terms of trademark rights. Due to the limited number of casinos, many of these marks cannot be used in Egypt and risk being revoked for non-use. However, this should be mitigated by the fact that there are many online casinos used in the country, although none of them are licensed by the government, as online gambling is not regulated by the Egyptian law. The question then is whether such a use would be accepted by the Egyptian register.

Vera Albino Inventa International

This article first appeared in Global Brand Review. For more information, please visit https://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/corporate/subscribe

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