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Saudi Arabia: Increase in Official Fees and Substantial Procedural Changes in Trademark Oppositions

September 23, 2016

Pursuant to the Ministerial Decree approving the Implementing Regulations of the GCC Trademark Law, the official fees for trademark related matters will increase significantly across the board in comparison with their current level, and are expected to become effective in the country within the coming few days. The exact date of implementation is not clear yet but it is certain that the rates are going to be applied on all new as well as pending applications that are still awaiting examination.

The increase in fees will also be coupled with the introduction of a number of substantial procedural changes related to opposition:

 –          The opposition period has been modified. It will be set as 60 days from publication date (pre-grant of registration), instead of 90 days from publication date, based on Article 12 of the regulations, bringing the procedure more in line with international standards. An extension of time to oppose will not be possible.

 –          An opposition will no longer be a legal proceeding – administered only by the Board of Grievances or the Court of First Instance. Pursuant to the new regulations, oppositions will be handled by a newly-established Trademark Board, an administrative tribunal responsible for hearing inter partes opposition proceedings.

 –          Pursuant to Articles 12 and 13 of the regulations, the Trademark Board is expected to notify the applicant of the opposition within 30 days from opposition date. Afterwards, the applicant is expected to submit a written counter-statement within 60 days from notification date, non-extendable. The Trademark Board will then appoint a hearing for oral submissions by the opponent and the applicant as well as submissions of sufficient documentary evidence. The decision is expected to be rendered by the Trademark Board within 90 days following the hearing.

 This is certainly an incremental process change that is expected with time to streamline the whole procedure and certainly result in a quick decision turnaround.

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