News & insights

MENA: Industrial Designs in a Developing Region

March 15, 2016

Local Design Laws

Design laws, among other norms of positive legal systems such as trademark and patent laws, were introduced in the past in almost all of the countries of the MENA region, either by their own codes or by including them in general codes. These laws explore and discuss the designs protected, the duration of protection, the transfer of rights, the procedures, penalties, and remedies, and the scope of protection.

International Design Conventions

Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Syria, and Tunisia are members of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs. Most countries are members of the WTO, which, of course, extends to the TRIPS agreement. TRIPS, Part II addresses each intellectual property right in succession.

Examination

Novelty is a requirement in almost all countries of our region. The most common ways in which an inventor will be barred include: (1) making the invention known or allowing the public to use the invention, (2) having the invention published in a fixed medium, (3) describing the design in a previous application filed by another.

In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, a grace period exists for protecting an inventor or their successor in title from authorized or unauthorized disclosure of the design before the filing date. An application can still be validly filed which will be considered novel despite the publication, provided that the filing is made during the grace period following the publication. The grace period is usually 6 or 12 months depending on the country. While absolute or relative novelty is the standard norm across the board, Libya comes as an exception. In this country, only local novelty should be established

General State of Enforceability of Design Rights

In general, there are no precedents in the MENA region on how prior cases regarding design infringement have been decided. Generally speaking, the existence of such precedents give an indication of how the judicial interpretation of the laws would be in cases involving identical circumstances. So the question of enforceability of design rights in the MENA countries is a matter solely determined by the extent to which design infringement is referred to under the local laws.

In the UAE, for example, preventive measures, offenses, and penalties are defined under Chapter 5 of Law No. 44 of 1992 for the protection of industrial property for Patents, Designs and Industrial Models. Under Article 61 of Chapter 5, a claimant for infringement may be awarded a range of remedies, depending on the facts of the particular case. Damages may be awarded to rectify financial harm suffered and an order for the destruction of the infringing items may be made. Similar remedies have also been specified in the laws of other Arab countries as well.

In Qatar, where there is no system for the administration of design applications, a measure of protection may be sought out by publishing cautionary notices at regular intervals in local newspapers. The cautionary notice should include a preamble, stating name and address of the proprietor, title of the design, and a brief description of the nature and intended use of the article in which the design is embodied along with drawings or other graphical specifications. An effective cautionary notice in Qatar may discourage infringement and can be relied upon as evidence, to some extent, in Court.

The table below offers a detailed listing of all relevant information for design protection in the MENA region.

COUNTRY 

 DURATION

EXAMINATION

APPLICATIONS WITH MULTIPLE FIGURES

RENEWAL

Algeria

1 year from filing date

As to form only

Possible

For one term of 9 years

Bahrain

10 years from filing date

As to form, novelty and industrial applicability

Possible

For one term of 5 years

Cyprus

5 years from filing date

As to form only

Possible up to 50 figures

For four terms of 5 years each

Djibouti

5 years from filing date

As to novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability

Possible

For two consecutive terms of 5 years each

Egypt

10 years from filing date

As to form and novelty

Possible up to 50 figures

For one term of 5 years

Ethiopia

5 years from filing date

As to form and novelty

Not possible

For two consecutive terms of 5 years each

Gaza

5 years from filing date

As to form only

Not possible

For two consecutive terms of 5 years each

India

10 years from filing date

As to form and novelty

Not possible

For one term of 5 years

Iran

5 years from filing date

As to form and novelty

Not possible

For two consecutive terms of 5 years each

Iraq

10 years from filing date

As to form, novelty and industrial applicability

Possible

Not possible

Jordan

15 years from filing date, and if priority is claimed, 15 years from priority date.

As to form and novelty

Possible

Not possible

Kuwait

10 years from filing date

As to form, novelty, and industrial applicability

Possible up to 50 figures

For one term of 5 years

Lebanon

25 years from filing date

As to form only

Possible up to 99 figures

For one additional term of 25 years

Libya

5 years from filing date

As to form only

Possible up to 50 figures

For two consecutive terms of 5 years

Morocco

5 years from filing date

As to form only

Possible up to 100 figures

For four consecutive terms of 5 years (totalizing a maximum period of 25 years)

Oman

5 years from filing date

As to novelty

Possible

For two consecutive terms of 5 years each

Pakistan

10 years from filing date

As to form and novelty

Not possible

For two consecutive terms of 10 years

Saudi Arabia

10 years from filing date

As to form and novelty

Not possible

Not possible

Sudan

5 years from filing date

As to form only

Possible up to 50 figures

For two consecutive terms of 5 years

Syria

5 years from filing date

As to form and novelty

Possible up to 5 figures

For two consecutive terms of 5 years each

Tunisia

5, 10 or 15 years from filing date

As to form only

Possible

For two consecutive periods of 5 years, where the initial duration was 5 years and for a further period of 5 years where the initial duration was 10 years

Turkey

5 years from filing date

As to form only

Possible

For four consecutive terms of 5 years each

United Arab Emirates

10 years from filing date

As to form, novelty, inventiveness and industrial applicability

Not possible

Not possible

West Bank

5 years from filing date

As to form only

Not possible

For two consecutive terms of 5 years each

Yemen

10 years from filing date

As to form

Not possible

Not Possible