Pharmaceuticals in Israel to require labeling in four languages. This may impact best trademark practice.

Under Amendments 17 and 20 to the Pharmacist’s Ordinance (New Version), 5741-1981, which takes effect from August 1, 2012, the labeling of all drugs and medicines, including prescription drugs and not just over-the-counter formulations, will require the pharmaceutical brand name to appear in Arabic and Russian, in addition to Hebrew and English, as currently required.   

As with other product brands, the brands of pharmaceutical preparations, but not international non-proprietary names (INNs) may be registered as trademarks.

In light of the new labeling requirements, it is recommended to apply for Israel trademarks for the pharmaceutical brand-name in each of the four languages: Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian.

It will be noted that, where a mark is registered as a trademark in a country of origin that is a party to the WIPO Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property 1883 (Paris Convention), or a member of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights 1994 (TRIPS), the Registrar of Trademarks will not refuse to register the same mark (telle quelle), except in rare and specific circumstances. Well-known trade marks are also protected under the Israel Trademark Ordinance.

NOTE

Despite Israel’s relatively small population, some 33 languages are in daily use.

The official languages are Modern Hebrew and Arabic. Most Arab Israelis, who make up about 20% of the country’s population, can speak Hebrew as well as Arabic. English is a very popular second language in Israel. It is often used in the spheres of international relations and foreign affairs. It is a requirement for students to study English at schools and universities. Because of it’s ubiquitous nature and the traditionally poor language skills of native English speakers, many American, British, Canadian, Australian and other immigrants find learning Hebrew very difficult. About 20% of the Israeli population is fluent in Russian.

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