Upheaval in patent legislation has been heavy over the past year in various Arab countries like Algeria, Morocco, Oman, and Bahrain. Qatar has now joined this trend! The Ministry of Trade and Industry of Qatar issued on August 07, 2006 Decree no. 30/2006 promulgating a Patent Law for the first time in the country. This new law is compliant with the World Trade Organization agreement and mirrors the provisions of the patents section of the TRIPS agreement.
For a long time before the promulgation of Law no. 30/2006 and in the absence of a pertinent local legislation, protection was sought through the Gulf Cooperation Council unified patent registration system. Some sort of protection was also obtained through the publication of cautionary notices at regular intervals in local newspapers.
Law no. 30 of 2006 came into force in the country as of its date of promulgation but will only be effective once the implementing regulations are drafted and issued by the Ministry of Economy and Trade. It is however expected to take a long time for the regulations to be issued. Until then, the current means for patent protection in Qatar (the GCC patent system or the publication of cautionary notices) will remain applicable.
In what follows, we list the salient features of Law no. 30 of 2006 as ratified by the Qatari Council of Ministers:
– Patent applications shall be filed with a separate office in the Ministry of Economy and Trade.
– Patents shall be available for all inventions, whether products or processes, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step, and are capable of industrial application.
– A patent shall confer on its owner the exclusive rights to prevent third parties not having the owner’s consent from the acts of making, using, offering for sale, or selling the patented invention.
– Patent owners shall have the right to assign, or transfer by succession, the patent and to conclude licensing contracts.
– The Examiner’s decision to grant a patent will be published in the Official Gazette for opposition by any interested party within sixty days from publication date.
– Once granted, a patent shall enjoy protection for twenty years from the date of grant.
– A patent has to be worked. If the patent is not exploited by the patentee within three years from the date of grant then the patent will be the subject of compulsory licensing under the provisions of the law.
– This law may not offer any benefits to local citizens which are not available to citizens of other TRIPS signatories by the principles of the national treatment.
– This law gives the right to patent owners to initiate civil and criminal actions against any infringing party. Penalties include payment of fines up to 10,000 Qatari Riyals (around US $ 2,700) as well as legal prosecution resulting in a maximum of two-year imprisonment.
Further developments in the subject matter will be reported to you in due course.
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