Use of trademarks protect products and consumer [Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates)]
(Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Trademarks play an important role in the marketing and advertising policies companies follow, whether for self-promotion, services or products.
As many as 110 cases of infringement on trademarks were registered at the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai in the first quarter of this year. Of them, 42 per cent were of infringements on well-known trademarks.
Abdullah Al Shehi, Director of the Intellectual Property Rights Section at the DED, attributed this to the fact an increasing number of companies are approaching the DED's Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division to protect their trademarks. On its part, the division takes quick action and solves the cases in 10 working days.
"It has become obvious that many companies which own famous trademarks believe that the DED has the experience and potential to take swift action and protect their trademarks, thereby guaranteeing the product and the consumer simultaneously," Al Shehi said.
The rising number of cases also point to the increase in the varieties of commodities and products available in the market.
The cropping up of similar products has prompted manufacturers to use trademarks to make their products known and identifiable and act as a testimony to the quality of their products.
"Moreover, trademarks play an important role in the marketing and advertising policies companies follow, whether for self-promotion, services or products, to appeal to the spending instincts of the consumer and achieve a competitive advantage by ensuring that they invest funds for maintaining quality to seal their reputation.
"Businessmen use trademarks to distinguish their products and services from similar others."
The most number of trademark violations were noticed among automobile spare parts, cosmetics, perfumes and mobile phones. Many companies infringed the trademarks of popular brands of these products because they are expensive."
"We believe there is a need for a form of legal protection for the owners of trade enterprises whose brands are vulnerable to imitation and duplication, and which are commercially exploited without having a prior consent. Consumers also required to be protected from confusing and misleading products and services."
The Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division follows a set of legislative procedures to streamline trademark protection.
Complaints & Responses
False 'five-star' promises: A man lodged a complaint against a travel and tour company claiming he had paid the latter Dh25,000 for a five-star travel package around the world. He, however, said that whenever he wanted to make a reservation, he was informed by the tour operator that there was no room at the moment because of excess of demand on travelling abroad. The complainant added that the tour operator even asked him to pay extra service fees, which he refused to pay. He was then told that they were going to revoke the contract without any compensation, following which he lodged a complaint with DED's Consumer Complaints Section.
The Consumer Complaints Section contacted the tour operator and after verifying the compliant, the travel agent was told — following an agreement — to refund the complainant his money (Dh25,000) in full.
Ring of contention: A consumer complained against a jewellery shop saying that the colour of the ring he had bought from the shop, for Dh4,500, had changed. He said when he went back to the jewellery shop, they refused to either replace it or give him a refund.
The Consumer Complaints Section contacted the jewellery shop regarding the matter. The ring has been returned to the shop and the shop owner has agreed to refund the complainant's money. The complainant has been informed about the action and the complaint was hence closed.
Car not customised:A lady filed a complaint against an auto dealer, claiming the latter had refused to deliver the car she had selected, even after she made the down payment for the same. She said that she had chosen a car with certain specifications as well as a specific colour but when she went to take the delivery of the car, she was told that the car she had selected was sold to another customer. She then placed another order for the car but after having completed the required bank procedures when she went to collect the car, she found out that the car was not customised according to her choice. She refused to receive the car, and the dealer was reluctant to make any furthur changes to the car.
The section contacted the auto dealer and the manager in-charge of the lady's order promised the complainant that she would get her car within the next 10 days. The complaint was subsequently closed.
(Compiled by ?Salah Al Deberky)
Infringement on trademarks is classified as piracy when an unscrupulous trader uses an trademark or branding design that is identical to that of a popular brand and stick it on his products and services without permission; or when someone uses a trademark which is not his for the purpose of advertising his products and services; or when someone falsely claims that a trademark is registered under his/her name.
These are at the local level. In the international market, some famous trademarks might be used by some others than their real owners as a vehicle for marketing their products or services through the modern communication channels such as the Internet. This requires special legal protection.
"Eventually, the trademark protects the interests of the producers, distributors, traders, consumers and the economy. It plays a key role in attracting the consumers and the clientele to the products and services that bear the brand name. The essential function of the trademark is to determine the origin of the product and the type of goods or service so that the consumer is reassured about what he/she buys.
Firms' social responsibility in the interest ?of consumer
A major commitment of a business organisation is its social responsibility towards the society where it functions in. This commitment originates from the reciprocal relationship a company shares with the society.
Social responsibility comes in various forms, and by all accounts, is a profound social dimension. We believe several social and humanitarian obligations come under the purview of organisations, specifically the ones which are in direct or indirect contact with the consumer. These obligations are based on laws governing the protection of the consumer, labour laws, human rights, tradition and values.
They are also means for a company to ensure transparency in the treatment of a consumer, and undertaking financial responsibilities which serve the consumer. As far as the companies are concerned, they should ensure that the consumer is aware of his/her rights.
In light of this, the concept of social responsibility in marketing, which is the latest philosophy in marketing thought, is in line with the challenges faced by the consumer today. The philosophy aims to protect the society in general and the consumer in particular. It is not an exaggeration when we say that the protection of the consumer and social responsibility are two sides of the same coin; in both these concepts, the eventual target is the consumer.
A company's social and ethical attitude determines the quality of their products.
Social responsibility has changed the outlook of the companies towards the consumer, who is no longer considered as just a source for making money. Today, companies aim to win the satisfaction and loyalty of its consumers.
Traders and suppliers, therefore, should seek to incorporate the trends, initiatives and projects which ultimately are meant to serve the consumer.
Accordingly, the consumer is placed on top of the list of priorities of any organisation in the business sector. Every firm looks to satisfy the consumer and meet his/her needs by adopting social responsibility. This works towards rationalising consumption patterns, as the consumer and his satisfaction is the core issue. Today, the private sector works towards meeting the living requirements and the essential needs of the society, and also creates new job opportunities by setting up development projects.
Countries across the world concerned with the rights of a consumer have established departments and institutions to ensure the protection of these rights. They have enacted related laws and legislations, and encouraged the setting up of civil societies concerned with protecting the consumer. The private sector, in turn, has realised its social responsibility and supports projects which serve the consumer and raises his consumption awareness.
(As told by Adele El Helou, Senior Director of Consumer Awareness Section, DED)
Khaleej Times runs the 'Consumer Forum' series in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development in Dubai. Readers can email their complaints and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line 'Consumer Forum' or raise them directly with the DED on phone number 600545555
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