x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

'Mecca' banned for use as brand name by top courts

Owners of two cola brands, 'Mecca Cola' and an Arabic equivalent challenged decision by the Ministry of Economy to ban use of name.

ABU DHABI // Cola brands cannot register trademarks featuring the holy city of Mecca, the Federal Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

The owners of two cola brands, "Mecca Cola" and an Arabic equivalent, were challenging a decision by the Ministry of Economy that such trademarks were unacceptable because of the city's holy status.

They argued that the trademarks were already registered, produced and distributed in many countries and that consumers were familiar with the brands.

The Dubai-based Mecca Cola World Company launched Mecca Cola in the UAE in April 2003.

The court's deliberation centred on Law Number 37 of 1992, which states: no trademark or any part of it should be registered if it has a religious connotation.

The Federal Appeals Court had previously ruled against the ministry's decision, and a decision by the Court of First Instance, as it considered "Mecca" to refer primarily to a geographic location. It ruled that the Kaaba was the holy place, rather than the city itself.

However, the Federal Supreme Court said the presence of many other holy monuments in the city, such as Mount Arafat, Mina and Mudalepha meant that the word Mecca was linked to religion in the minds of the public.

hdajani@thenational.ae