News & insights

GCC: Patent Registration

June 21, 2013

As is the case for the Middle East region in general, the Arabian gulf countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, referred to as the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC), have updated, adapted and adopted many of the generally accepted laws pertaining to intellectual property. This extends to patents, including those related to pharmaceuticals.

Paris Convention and PCT
Except for Kuwait, all GCC countries are members of the Paris Convention. While the GCC Patent Office (GCCPO) itself is not a member of the Convention, it respects the Convention’s rules. Of all six countries, Kuwait, as well as the GCCPO, have not yet deposited their instruments of accession to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The latest is Saudi Arabia which attended to the same on May 3, 2013 and the Treaty is expected to come into force on August 3, 2013.

Examination
The Patent Offices of the six countries and the GCCPO all look for novelty, inventiveness and applicability in order to grant patent applications. At this time, patent applications filed in Kuwait and Qatar are only assigned an application number. Substantive examination is not carried out for the time being. In the case of Qatar, no implementing regulations have been drafted or made official yet. Saudi Arabia is the only GCC country which conducts its own substantive examination; unlike the UAE and the GCCPO where examination is outsourced. Currently, examination in the UAE is handled by the Austrian Patent Office while the GCC utilizes the services of China’s State Intellectual Property Office. Examination in Bahrain and Oman is limited as to form.

Patent Term Extension
Bahrain and Oman are the only countries which allow for patent term extension (PTE). In both countries, PTE is provided upon request in cases where the marketing authorization approval for a pharmaceutical product is delayed due to reasons outside the applicant’s control. The extension term is equal to the number of days of delay experienced. In Bahrain, a PTE is also allowed, upon request, for any grant decision which again is delayed due to reasons outside the applicant’s control.

Enforcement
Laws defining enforcement options are included in all six GCC countries’ patent laws. In cases of infringement, it is possible to file for injunctions and to pursue the infringer in the local court. The penalties include fines, destruction of inventory and imprisonment. Customs in the various countries are also equipped to prevent counterfeiting, including medicines. From a practical point of view, there has not been any publicized cases involving pharmaceuticals, however we believe that the legal system is adequately set-up to handle eventual cases.

Country

Paris
Convention

PCT

Substansive
Examination

Patent term

Patent term
extension

Bahrain

Yes

6 mos *

Yes

30 mos.

No

20 years from
filing/priority

Yes

Kuwait

No

12 mos**

No

No

20 years from filing

No

Oman

Yes

12 mos.

Yes

30 mos.

No

20 years from grant

Yes

Qatar

Yes

12 mos.

Yes

30 mos.

No

20 years from filing

No

Saudi Arabia

Yes

12 mos.

Yes***

30 mos.

Yes

In-house

20 years from filing

No

UAE

Yes

12 mos.

Yes

30 mos.

Yes

Austria PO

20 years from filing

No

GCC

No

12 mos**

No

Yes

China PO

20 years from filing

No

* In practice, the Bahraini Patent Office accepts 12 months priority, despite the law stating 6 months, an error which requires a yet to come official decision amending this oversight.
** Kuwait and the GCC Patent Offices are not members of the Paris Convention yet respect its priority rules.
*** The PCT rules in Saudi Arabia are scheduled to come into force on August 3, 2013.