Accession to Budapest Treaty

The Kingdom of Bahrain deposited the instrument of accession to the Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure on August 20, 2012. This Treaty entered into force on November 20, 2012.
The Budapest Treaty has a total of 75 contracting member states. Contracting member states from our region include: Armenia, Azerbaijan, India, Oman, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.

Djibouti New Patents and Industrial Designs Regulations

The regulations implementing Industrial Property Rights Law no. 50/AN/09/6ème L (issued on April 27, 2009) came into force in Djibouti on November 25, 2011 by virtue of Official Decree no. 2011-079.

Oman Formal Examination Begins

The Omani Patent Office started formal examination of all pending patent applications. During the beginning of 2012, all applicants were required to bring their files in line with the new formalities which were introduced in February 2010. This procedure comes as a preliminary step for substantive examination which is expected to begin soon.
In fact, the Omani Patent Office started accepting patent applications in 2005 after the introduction of the official fees schedule (published in Official Gazette no. 805 dated December 17, 2005), which completed Ministerial Decree no. 37 issued earlier on September 10, 2005 regarding the implementing regulations of Patent Law no. 82 of 2000. On May 12, 2008, Oman introduced a new Industrial Property Rights Law by virtue of royal decree no. 67 of 2008, which replaced Law no. 82 of 2000. The regulations implementing Law no. 67 of 2008 came into force in the country on December 17, 2008. Since then, however, the Patent Office has been working on its setup in preparation for implementing the new regulations and so examination of patent applications was put on hold.

Changes in Regulations

The official fees for patent related matters were revised in Morocco, effective October 1, 2012. Fees have substantially increased in comparison with their current level. The new schedule of fees is applicable to all new applications as well as applications that have still not matured to registration.
It is also worth noting that maintenance fees in the country will be due annually on the anniversary of the filing date of the patent. There is a six-month grace period for late payment with a surcharge. Previously, annuities were paid every five years. The 1st through the 5th patent annuities were payable at the time of filing. The remaining annuities were payable in groups of 5 years at the time of payment of the 6th, 11th and 16th annuities.


Patent Applications Filed

The Qatari Patent Office started accepting both local applications and national phase PCT applications for the first time in the country.

Qatar also joined PCT on August 3, 2011.  The instrument of accession contains the declaration that, pursuant to Article 64(5) of the said Treaty, the State of Qatar does not consider itself bound by Article 59 of the said Treaty.  According to Article 59, any dispute between two or more countries of the Treaty concerning the interpretation or application of the Treaty or its regulations, not settled by negotiation, may, by any one of the countries concerned, be brought before the International Court of Justice unless the countries concerned agree on some other method of settlement. Therefore, with regard to any dispute between Qatar and any other country of the Treaty, the provisions of Article 59 shall not apply.

Saudi Arabia

Automating the Patent Filing System

The Patent Office in Saudi Arabia launched a new system to file patent applications electronically. On-line applications became acceptable as of March 28, 2012. This new system allows applicants to fill out an electronic application form, check and review it for accuracy and precision, and then submit it directly over the internet to the Patent Office. The system then generates a filing date and a filing number.  At a later stage, the supporting documents would be submitted to the Patent Office in order to complete the registration requirements.


New Implementing Regulations Out!

The regulations implementing the new Law on Patents, Utility Models, Integrated Circuits and Layouts (Law no. 18 of 2012) were drafted on March 30, 2012. The most important features of these regulations include: (1) Examination is possible as to novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability; (2) Patent applications accepted by the Registrar are published in the Official Gazette. Oppositions may be filed within 6 months from publication date; (3) A patent has to be worked. If the patent is not being fully exploited by the patentee within 4 years from the date of filing or 3 years from the date of grant, the patent will be subject to compulsory licensing under the provisions of the law; and (4) The term of protection is 20 years from filing date.

A new list of official fees was also introduced. The list includes fees for filing, examination, oppositions, annuities and other services related to patents, utility models and layout designs. The new regulations also provide information on Data Exclusivity and stipulate new provisions on Utility Models (which were not available under the previous law) as well as new Border Measures. Regarding Data Exclusivity, no other company may seek regulatory approval in Syria of an equivalent product based on data submitted by an originator company (without the latter’s approval) for five years from the marketing approval of the originator product. During the period of exclusivity, regulators cannot use (rely on) the originator’s data to approve a generic product.


Accession to the Hague Agreement

Tunisia acceded to the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs on June 13, 2012.
The Hague Agreement currently has a total of 60 contracting member states. Member states from our region include: Egypt, Morocco, Oman, OAPI, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.


First Letters Patent Granted

The first two letters patent were issued by the Patent Office in Yemen on July 11, 2012. These first patents carry the numbers 1 and 2.

In principle, the maintenance fee will be due annually on the anniversary of the filing date. However, the Patent Office is still working on its new setup in preparation for implementing the new regulations and, to date, has not yet started accepting annuity payments. Patent applications in Yemen will be accepted as long as they have already been published by other Patent Offices.

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