There has been a move towards electronic filing over the past few years in several countries of our region, namely Algeria, Azerbaijan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Morocco, UAE, West Bank, and Yemen, and we are seeing Cyprus getting on board only recently. The next country on that list is likely to be Jordan following the introduction of the Electronic Transactions Law in May 2015. Article 4 of the law stipulates that ministries and other government institutions may allow for e-transactions, provided that the authorities concerned have the appropriate system in place.

With a virtually instantaneous issuance of filing receipts and filing numbers, there is also a dramatic increase in the speed within which applications are examined. In Saudi Arabia, for example, it is now taking around three to six months on average for an application to mature into registration in the absence of an office action or an opposition. Prior to e-filing, the standard procedure ran for almost two years.

While the underlying e-filing principle is almost the same across all countries (submission of paper copies of the application along with supporting documents remains a requirement after completing the e-filing in all countries with the exception of Cyprus), there are certain country specific features worth shedding light on.

  • Following e-filing, the Trademark Office in Saudi Arabia no longer accepts specifications for goods and services that do not literally match with the Nice specification. Applications with an item that is not explicitly on that list will not be properly docketed into the system, which would result in considerable delays. Applicants should carefully account for this especially when faced with approaching deadlines, such as a Convention priority deadline.
  • The Trademark Office in the UAE has the WIPO Industrial Property Automation System as the e-filing platform, which was adapted to the size of the office, the workflow, the data volume, and the rules and regulations.
  • The e-platform in Iran is currently only available in Persian. Also, the Trademark Office no longer accepts general terms for goods and services on the application. Trademark applicants will be asked to submit the exact WIPO serial number for each item of interest, and as it appears for the time being, the list of goods/services of the Iranian e-platform is not fully inclusive all of WIPO serial numbers.
  • The platform in Algeria, Lebanon, and Yemen can only process trademark applications for the time being. The platform is still not ready to accept renewal applications.

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