Lebanon is a signatory to the Paris Convention (London text), the Madrid Agreement for the Repression of False or Deceptive Indications on Goods (London text) and the Nice Agreement for the Classification of Goods and Services.
Violation of intellectual rights, however, remains a serious problem in Lebanon, especially in the areas of unauthorized copying of imported books, videotapes, cassettes and computer software. The government does a poor job of enforcing the law, and protection must be sought in the courts.
PatentsPatents are granted for fifteen years from the date of filing. A patent application should be filed before the invention has been used or published in Lebanon or abroad. Applications are not examined as to novelty, and there are no opposition provisions. Pharmaceutical formulas or compounds are not patentable.
A patent may be declared void unless the invention has been worked in Lebanon within two years from the date of grant, three years for nationals of convention countries. There is no provision regarding the grant of a compulsory license in the absence of working. To be effective, assignments must be registered with the Patent Office.
TrademarksTrademark laws in Lebanon are old and rudimentary. The laws date from the beginning of the century and have not been updated to take into account economic developments and changes.
A trademark application can include goods in any number of classes. An application for the registration of a trademark is examined as to whether it offends public order and morals or represents natural or foreign decoration. If the application is accepted, a certificate of registration will be issued and is effected by publication in the Official Gazette. There are no opposition provisions, but any interested party may bring forward action for cancellation at any time during the term of protection on grounds such as lack of distinctiveness and improper registration.
A trademark is valid for fifteen years from the date of filing and is renewable indefinitely for similar periods. Assignment of a trademark must be recorded with the Trademark Office in order to be effective against third parties. Assignment may be with or without a business concern. Use of a trademark is not compulsory in order to file an application for registration or to maintain registration.
Infringement of the trademark laws is punishable by fine and imprisonment. Civil remedies are also available in the form of injunctions and damage awards. In the case of trademark imitation, the courts look for a general resemblance from the consumer point of view in determining whether the trademark is violating a protected mark.
Designs and Industrial ModelsDesigns and industrial models are may be registered for an initial term of five years from the date of filing. Registration may be extended as long as twenty-five years. Designs and industrial models should be distinguishable from those previously known. Advertising prior to filing applications, even by way of sale of the relevant products, does not preclude registration. There are no provisions for opposition to the registration of designs and industrial models. Assignment of designs and industrial models is allowed. Working of designs and industrial models is not required, and compulsory licensing is not applicable. Damaging a validly registered and published design or industrial model knowingly is punishable by fine.