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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

With coasts along the Arabian Sea, Oman occupies a regional position of great importance. The Omani peninsula of Musandam sits on the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic location that serves as the gateway of oil flow from Gulf Cooperation Council states to the world.

Article 11 in the Basic Statute of the Sultanate of Oman decrees that the “[Omani] economy is based on justice and the principles of a free economy.” By regional standards of the surrounding Middle East and North African states, Oman has a relatively diversified economy. Industries in Oman include crude oil production and refining, natural and liquefied natural gas production, and construction services. The country mainly exports petroleum, metals, textiles, and fish. Key imports to Oman are food products, livestock, heavy machinery and transport equipment, and lubricants at an annual total value of US$25.78 billion. Import partners with Oman include the United States, United Arab Emirates, Japan, India, China, and Saudi Arabia.

Oman’s annual GDP growth averaged 1.8 percent over the past year. The country’s GDP is US$173.1 billion, while the GDP per capita is US$43,700. The GDP composition is 1.7 percent for agriculture, 45.4 percent for industry, and 52.9 percent for services.

Oman maintains a relatively comprehensive regulatory and legislative system for the protection of trademarks, patents, designs, copyright, and trade secrets. In addition, Oman is a party to the Berne Convention, Brussels Convention, Nairobi Treaty, Paris Convention, Patent Law Treaty, Trademark Law Treaty, WIPO Copyright Treaty, WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, Budapest Treaty, Hague Agreement, Madrid Protocol, Patent Cooperation Treaty, GCC Patent Law, Apostille Convention, and The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.

On the trademarks front, Oman follows the 10th edition of the Nice classification and a single application may include several classes. Trademark examination is performed on formal, absolute, and relative grounds and oppositions may be filed after 60 days from publication date. The protection term for a trademark is 10 years from filing date and is renewable for like periods. As for use, trademarks are vulnerable to a cancellation action by any interested party if there has been no effective use of the mark for a period of five consecutive years preceding date of filing for cancellation.

As for patents, foreign patent applications may be filed claiming 12 month Convention priority or entered as national stage via PCT within 30 months from the earliest claimed priority. The Omani Patent Office has not opted out of the restoration of priority right under PCT Rule 49.6; accordingly, it may be possible to enter the national phase in Oman past the 30 month deadline. The patent office publishes patent applications at the time of requesting examination and again upon allowance, similar to the usual “A” and “B” naming system used in many other countries.

In line with expected PCT Rules, patents are protected for a period of 20 years from the international filing date. Annuities are due annually on the anniversary of the international filing date and payable as of nationalization of the application in Oman.

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