This year the countries of the MENA region witnessed many developments that have affected the scope of the Intellectual Property protection and enforcement framework, including the adoption of border protection measures, introduction of new intellectual property laws, and the ability of registering Arabic domain names. Below, we list these major developments which are expected to change the way business entities and legislative bodies handle intellectual property in the region.


A new protocol on the protection of indigenous knowledge, culture and folklore (the Swankopmund Protocol) was adopted on August 9, 2010.



The regulations implementing the industrial design law in Bahrain, law no. 6 issued back on April 29, 2006, came into force in the country on February 26, 2010.The most important feature of the new regulations is that they contain provisions on the payment of annuities for the first time in the country. The maintenance fee will be due annually on the anniversary of the date of publication. The main features of the new design regulations are:


1. Protection period is 10 years from filing date. An additional term of 5 years is possible upon payment of renewal fees.

2. Applications are examined as to form, novelty and industrial applicability.

3. Multiple-figure applications are admissible with up to 50 figures per application.



According to an official notification issued by the Egyptian Patent Office on February 1, 2010, the 30-month time limit for entering the national phase under PCT Chapters I and II may be extended for an additional 3-month period upon submission of a written request and payment of a substantial surcharge for late entry.



The Trademark Office is reviewing files with registrations between 1 and 22999 to make sure that the records are in order. In case of any missing documents, owners will be asked to complete the requirements by no later than December 7, 2010 (for reg. between 1 and 16090) and March 20, 2011 (for reg. between 16091 and 22999).



The Jordanian government has recently approved a new and stringent cyber crime law. Jordan’s “Information Systems Crime Law of 2010” contains 18 articles dealing with the complete spectrum of cyber crime. Articles in said law have defined acts of cyber crime across the whole continuum, dealing with minor offenses such as unauthorized access to computer material, to more serious crimes such as identity and credit card fraud.



The Jordanian government has recently introduced a new Public Prosecution Law (Law no. 11 of 2010). According to the provisions of this Law, crimes committed in breach of Trademark Law no. 33 of 1952 and Copyright Law no. 22 of 1992 will be referred to a Central Public Prosecutor.



Examination of pending patent applications is expected to start in the country in the near future. The Kuwaiti Patent Office is now completing the files of all pending applications.



A new trademark law was introduced in Libya after being ratified by the Libyan Parliament. This law was published in the Local Gazette on August 21, 2010 and is effective as of that date. This law replaces Law no. 40 of 1956 on the Protection of Trademarks.



The Omani Trademark Office has shifted its trademark classification system from Nice’s 8th edition to Nice’s 9th Edition.

Two years after the issuance of the regulations implementing the Industrial Design Law (Chapter III of the Omani Industrial Property Law no. 67/2008), the Omani Patent Office is accepting design applications for the first time in the country. However, it is important to note that although it is possible to file an application, the Omani Intellectual Property Department is yet to disclose specific formalities regarding examination, publication, registration and renewal.



By virtue of Decree no.16/2010, Qatar has enacted the e-Transactions and e-Commerce Law. This law is the first complete and comprehensive law in Qatar that deals with the rules and regulations concerning e-business, as well as the penalties for breaking such rules.


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia was removed from the USTR watch list.



New border measures on the recordal of trademarks were introduced. After completing the recordal, the trademark will be placed on watch, and products bearing this trademark or a similar mark will be monitored and inspected ex-officio. Products suspected of being counterfeit will be suspended. The rights owner as well as the importer will be immediately notified. Recordation is valid for one year, and is renewable for like periods.



The Standing Committee on Well-Known Trademarks was established pursuant to Presidential Resolution no. 47/2009 and Ministerial Resolution no. 2167/2009 to look into objections against registered trademarks which constitute a reproduction, an imitation, or a translation, liable to create confusion, of marks that are considered by the competent authority of Syria to be well-known. Objections can be raised by owners of well-known trademarks against identical or similar trademark registrations with identical or similar goods or services, as well as identical or similar trademark registrations with dissimilar goods or services, regardless of whether the well-known mark is registered in Syria or not.



The Ministry of Industry and Trade in Yemen issued Ministerial Decree no. 271/2010 on October 31, 2010 which defines the framework of the patent system in the country. This setup was kept on hold ever since the introduction of the implementing regulations of the Intellectual Property Law no. 19 back in 2007. As a result of this Decree, the Patent Office is now receiving new applications and starting the related publication and issuance of the letters patent.


The Yemeni General Department for Intellectual Property Protection of the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued on November 22, 2010 Law no. 23 regarding trademarks and geographical indications. This law will come into force on February 23, 2011.

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