Over the year 2007, many noteworthy developments have affected the Intellectual Property legal framework of the Arab region, including the promulgation of new legislations on IP rights and cyber crime. In what follows we list these new laws which have the potential to change the way both companies and counsels alike handle the various aspects of Intellectual Property protection in the Arab countries.

SAUDI ARABIA (March 2007)

A new penal law on Cyber Crime (Decree no. 79 of 2007) was issued for the first time in the country. This law addresses the rise in electronic crime in Saudi Arabia which includes such crimes as credit card frauds, internet crimes, cyber terrorism, creation and/or distribution of viruses, hacking, system interference, illegal access and interception, and so on.

SYRIA (April 2007)

A new law on Trademarks, Geographical Indications, and Industrial Models and Designs (Law no. 8 of 2007) entered into force on April 12, 2007. Law no. 8 of 2007 replaces Legislative Decree No. 47 of 1946 on Trademarks, Industrial Models, and Designs. The law outlines the general directives and rulings governing registration, renewal, assignment, and cancellation procedures of trademark, geographical indications, and industrial models and designs in Syria. Contrary to the provisions of the previous law where a single trademark application may include several classes, according to Law no. 8 of 2007 a separate application is required for each class. Also, while publication for opposition purposes was not possible under the previous regulations, new provisions were introduced pursuant to the new law whereby an opposition to a trademark application may be filed within 90 days from publication date. Furthermore, unlike the provisions of the previous law, trademark non-use under the new law constitutes valid grounds for cancellation. Finally, Law no. 8 of 2007 recognizes famous trademarks that are well-known in Syria and abroad.

TUNISIA (July 2007)

Law no. 50 of 2007 was issued amending Articles 51 and 52 of Trademark Law no. 36 of 2001. Law no. 50 of 2007 is designed to strengthen the Tunisian Trademark Law in matters related to counterfeit products by promoting tougher standards for the protection of intellectual property rights and enhancing criminal-enforcement efforts.

YEMEN (July 2007)

The overdue regulations implementing the patent section of the Intellectual Property Law of Yemen (Law no. 19 of October 1994) came into force on July 02, 2007. These regulations are necessary for nationwide implementation of the patent-related provisions of Law no. 19 of 1994, given that this law has replaced the old Patent Law which was in force in the former Southern Yemen and has unified patent registration in the whole country. According to the new regulations, patent applications will be examined as to form, novelty, and industrial applicability; oppositions may be filed within 6 months from publication date; a patent shall enjoy protection for 15 years from filing date; a maintenance fee is due annually on the anniversary of the filing date; and absolute novelty is required.

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