Our annual Playback series sums up the most the important intellectual property developments and news that unfolded over the past year in the Middle East and North Africa.
Listed below are the IP highlights of 2014:
New Requirements for Patent Applications: Effective as of May 1, 2014 but are retroactive to pending applications. The Patent Office is expected to issue notices and set a deadline for completing the requirements for the pending cases.
Amendment of Copyright Law: The main features of the amended Law include the prohibition of all activities related to manufacturing, importing, exporting, buying, selling or distributing copyrighted items without the prior consent of the owners.
Increase in Official Fees: Applicable as of April 1, 2014.The increase relates to: (1) oppositions, (2) availability search and status search, and (3) obtaining certified copies.
Re-registration Into Effect: Pursuant to the new regulations implementing the Ethiopian Trademark Law of 2006, trademark owners were asked in 2014 to take specific measures when it comes to the particulars of their portfolio in order to ensure that everything is in order. December 23, 2014 will in principle be the final deadline for the: (1) re-registration of trademarks filed in the country before July 7, 2006, and (2) renewal of trademarks filed between July 07, 2006 and June 22, 2007.
Amendment to IP Executive By-laws Addressing Examination of Patent Applications: A new process for the examination of patent applications was established. The IIPO will first perform examination on formal grounds. Upon satisfaction, the IIPO will forward the matter on to the competent authority for substantive examination. This authority will then examine the application and provide its opinion based on which the IIPO will issue its decision.
Border Protection Remains a Must: A draft law on Border Measures was introduced in order to deal with piracy and counterfeiting. It is expected that the customs officials adopt an ex-officio border system. As a result, the customs authorities are entitled to suspend ex-officio products which are suspected of being counterfeit and to inform immediately the rights holder as well as the importer.
Administrative Courts to Replace the Higher Court of Justice: The Administrative Courts Law No. 27 of 2014 was ratified. The law abolishes and replaces the Higher Courts of Justice Law No. 12 of 1992 and establishes a two-degree adjudication system for administrative disputes. All decisions issued by the Administrative Court shall be subject to appeal before the “Higher Administrative Court” within 30 days of the date of issuance of the appealed decision. All administrative cases currently under consideration by the Higher Court of Justice are to be referred to the Administrative Court as of October 17, 2014.
New Regulation for Trademark Assignment: This regulation includes a list of articles related to trademark assignment, license and pledge.
Amendments to the Patent Law: These amendments aim to position the patent law in accordance with international patent-related treaties and agreements that Jordan plans to adhere or accede to. They provide more access to the public in general and to the patent landscape in Jordan. It will be possible to search and view all published inventions, including pending patent applications as well as granted or rejected patents. It will also be possible to verify the status; and this capability will enable local industries to obtain access to the latest technologies and in cases where there are rejections, to pursue developments without concerns of potential infringement.
Registration Certificates of Designs are Available Now: It became possible for applicants of design applications in the country to ask for the registration certificate of their designs.
Substantive Examination of Patent Applications: The expected procedure in brief is as follows: upon passing examination as to form, the examination fees will be due. Following examination and upon acceptance, the application will be published in the Official Gazette. There will be an opposition period of four months, after which, assuming no opposition is filed, the application will be granted and the granted patent will be re-published in the Official Gazette and the related Letters Patent will be issued.
Substantive Examination Fees Due: Oman declared on November 2, 2014 that the substantive examination fees for patent applications submitted between 2003 and 2007 will be due within two months from the date of announcement.
New Scale for Filing and Registration Numbers: The TMO has introduced a new numbering method for trademark applications. Following the e-filing system, applications are now allotted an e-number which will be taken as the filing number and will remain the same at the time of registration (i.e. registration number).
GCC Trademark Law Published: The decision for approving the revised GCC trademark law in Saudi Arabia was published in the country.The purpose of the GCC Trademark Law is to replace the local trademarks laws of each of the GCC member states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) and, thereby, creating unified implementing regulations for trademark protection in all states.
Substantial Increase in Official Publication Fees: The new rates became applicable on all applications filed on or after January 14, 2014.
Substantive Examination Fees Due: The Patent Office declared on October 26, 2014 that the substantive examination fees for patent applications submitted between 2011 and 2013 will be due within 90 days from the date of announcement. Effective November 1, 2014, filing and examination fees will have to be paid for all new patent applications.A New Deadline for POA: Starting May 1, 2014, a POA must be submitted at the time of filing of a new trademark application. This applies to oppositions as well. Applications and oppositions with missing POAs will not be admissible and an extension of time will not be possible.
Amended Draft of the New Anti-Commercial Fraud Law: The UAE Federal National Council approved the draft Anti-Commercial Fraud Law after introducing some amendments to the original version that was first submitted in early 2013. The said amendments address potential concerns expressed by brand owners regarding namely the re-exportation of counterfeit products.
Changes in the Examination Formalities: The TMO will no longer issue pre-examination decisions or grant extensions of time during the trademark examination process. Only acceptances, conditional acceptances and rejections shall be issued in the country. In other words, the trademark applications will be either accepted, accepted under a condition or rejected, while examination will continue to be based on both absolute and relative grounds.
Increase in Publication Fees: Applicable on all applications filed on or after August 7, 2014. The increase relates to: trademark, patent and industrial design applications.
Accessions to Treaties and Conventions in the MENA
Bahrain: Accession to the Apostille Convention
Iraq: Accession to the Singapore Treaty
Kuwait: Accession to the Paris Convention and the Berne Convention
Qatar: Accession to the Budapest Treaty
UAE: Signing of the Beijing Treaty and the Marrakesh Treaty
Yemen: Accession to the World Trade Organization
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