Jordan: Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property Bulletin, January 1998

Last Updated: 9 March 1998
Conviction of a Person for Infringing Upon a Patent Right in the UAE

In our June 1997 issue, we published an article titled "First Infringement of a Granted Patent". In this regard, Dubai's Court issued a judgement of a 2000 Dirhams fine against the first defendant in the case called T. H. who is a Taiwanese national. The defendant infringed upon the patent by reproducing the patented device, Godpraiser Electronic Device (Al-Thaker), and promoted and marketed it without permission from the patentee, Mr. Mohamed Matar, of the Iraqi nationality, who is a resident in the United Arab Emirates.

The rest of the defendants were found not guilty of the charges of marketing the device although they knew it was an imitated one. Five of the defendants were the store manager, salesman, manager, senior salesman, and senior manager.

The facts of the lawsuit can be summarized in that the patentee plaintiff has invented a device, Al-Thaker, which can be plugged in the car lighter socket for reciting the riding prayer. The device was registered under a patent in 1994 in the United Arab Emirates. He arranged with a company in Taiwan to manufacture the device and sold it for Dirhams 55 a piece.

In 1996, the plaintiff noticed that there was a device similar to his sold in the markets at a cheaper price. When he examined it, he came to know that the device contained the same voice on his own device and is quite similar with regards to its external shape.

Therefore, the patentee inventor complained to the police, public prosecutors office, and the chamber of commerce. Following police investigations, it was found out that the infringing device was brought into the country by the first defendant T. H. who is the owner of a company in Taiwan and sells it in the local markets.

On March 20th, 1997, T.H. was apprehended and he confessed that he sells the infringing device and that he dealt with the other defendants but never told them it was a counterfeit.

The plaintiff patentee has decided to appeal the judgement.

In this issue:

l Conviction of a Person for Infringement in the UAE - page 1
l Important Notice - page 1
l Inspection campaigns in BAHRAIN - page 2
l News from ASPIP - page 2
l AGIP & ASPIP Chairman to Represent JORDAN - page 3
l UAE Reviewing Current Patent Law - page 3
l IP Draft Law in PALESTINE - page 3
l AGIP Managing Partner Relocates - page 3
l SYRIA: Copyright Draft Law - page 3

Legal Angle

l BAHRAIN: Registration of Foreign Companies - page 4
l Enforcement of Intellectual Property Laws in the Arab Countries - page 5
l Important Notice - page 5

Inspection Campaigns in BAHRAIN

In a step to curb infringement on intellectual property rights, the Ministry for the Council of Ministers Affairs and Information has been carrying out inspection campaigns on video stores and others to apprehend infringers.

The Director of the Publications Department of the Ministry said that the aim of such campaigns is to make dealers in audio-visual works and publications comply with the copyright law, its implementing regulations, the publications law and to clarify whatever contravenes them.

The plan includes several stages. In the first stage, there will be a study of the situation of the stores which deal in works of art. Then the second stage will be to spread awareness among dealers on the enforceable regulations and international conventions joined by Bahrain such as TRIPS.

In the third stage, the Ministry will form an inspection team to check on all Arab stores dealing in copyrightable works together with information pamphlets explaining the types of contraventions in their stores like circulating works of art without a censorship permit, offering infringing works, and promoting works unauthorized internationally. In the next stage, part of the contravening works will be confiscated while urging the store owner to dispose of the rest.

In the final stage, the Ministry will give a notice to the owners and dealers in such works to finish with all the contraventions in their stores and to rectify their legal positions during the period ending in February 1998. After the elapse of the specified period, the inspectors will make other inspection campaigns to apprehend contraveners, confiscating infringing works, and taking contraveners to the court. Some cases have been referred to the court from the beginning of the campaign, because such contraventions harm the Bahraini society and cannot be overlooked.

There is a wide cooperation between the Ministry of Interior and the Customs and Ports Department and there is a close watch over the State's outlets so as to stop all that comes into the country. Due to the campaigns, store owners have daily meetings with the officials of the Ministry to clarify some matters. Likewise, it is important that local authors and producers of works of art have their works registered with the Publications Department and obtain a registration certificate.

Local authors and producers have filed about 120 works including books, engineering designs, and video tapes since the aim of the law is to protect innovation and originality, especially in the literary and artistic fields. Owners of computer companies are always complaining that some stores are copying computer software, which they are not authorized to copy. This adversely affects its producers who hesitate to provide the stores with advanced software. Therefore, tight measures must be put in place in order to increase the inflow of computer software. Computer programmes are very important to the scientific and educational development the country is witnessing.(r)

"Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Speeches and Researches on Intellectual Property"

The above is a title of a book recently compiled and published by Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP) in both English and Arabic. For more information about the book and on how to order a copy (price US $ 8), please contact our Regional Office in Jordan.(r)

News from ASPIP

During meetings in early December 1997, the General Assembly and Board of Directors of the Arab Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (ASPIP) discussed a proposition brought forth by the Higher Council for Science and Technology of Amman, Jordan.

The proposition was to establish a non-profit company with a view to encourage Arab inventors to market their inventions as the marketing aspect is considered important.

The General Assembly and Board of Directors of ASPIP approved the proposition to establish the said company and activate its role. In this regard, ASPIP has signed a cooperation agreement with the Research Corporation Technologies, an American company.(r)

ASPIP also discussed, during its meetings, means of cooperation between the Society and Ajman University in the United Arab Emirates regarding the Intellectual Property Expert Program and Intellectual Property Masters Degree Program.

A mutual agreement was reached with Ajman University and the program is to be implemented by the beginning of the school year 98/99. The University will also serve as the headquarters of the activities of ASPIP.

A committee has been formed to follow up on this matter headed by Dr. Erich Hausser, International President of AGIP, in cooperation with the Center for Industrial Property Studies (CEIPI) of Strasbourg and the Zurich Center of Intellectual Property (ETH).(r)

UAE is Reviewing Current Patent Law

UAE is reviewing its current law on patents to introduce amendments to make it compatible with the TRIPS Agreement.

The amended law is expected to be ready for implementation by the year 2005.

UAE exerts tremendous efforts towards the enforcement of industrial property rights. The United Arab Emirates has been a member of WIPO since 1976 and of the Paris Convention since 1996.(r)

Conviction of a Person for Infringing Upon a Patent Right in the UAE

In our June 1997 issue, we published an article titled "First Infringement of a Granted Patent". In this regard, Dubai's Court issued a judgement of a 2000 Dirhams fine against the first defendant in the case called T. H. who is a Taiwanese national. The defendant infringed upon the patent by reproducing the patented device, Godpraiser Electronic Device (Al-Thaker), and promoted and marketed it without permission from the patentee, Mr. Mohamed Matar, of the Iraqi nationality, who is a resident in the United Arab Emirates.

The rest of the defendants were found not guilty of the charges of marketing the device although they knew it was an imitated one. Five of the defendants were the store manager, salesman, manager, senior salesman, and senior manager.

The facts of the lawsuit can be summarized in that the patentee plaintiff has invented a device, Al-Thaker, which can be plugged in the car lighter socket for reciting the riding prayer. The device was registered under a patent in 1994 in the United Arab Emirates. He arranged with a company in Taiwan to manufacture the device and sold it for Dirhams 55 a piece.

In 1996, the plaintiff noticed that there was a device similar to his sold in the markets at a cheaper price. When he examined it, he came to know that the device contained the same voice on his own device and is quite similar with regards to its external shape.

Therefore, the patentee inventor complained to the police, public prosecutors office, and the chamber of commerce. Following police investigations, it was found out that the infringing device was brought into the country by the first defendant T. H. who is the owner of a company in Taiwan and sells it in the local markets.

On March 20th, 1997, T.H. was apprehended and he confessed that he sells the infringing device and that he dealt with the other defendants but never told them it was a counterfeit.

The plaintiff patentee has decided to appeal the judgement.(r)

AGIP Managing Partner Relocates

AGIP Managing Partner, Mr. Luay Abu-Ghazaleh, will relocate to our new headquarters in Amman, Jordan at the beginning of February 1998.(r)

AGIP and ASPIP Chairman to Represent ICC JORDAN

Mr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman of AGIP and ASPIP, has been invited to represent the International Chamber of Commerce of Jordan at a meeting with the General Secretary of the United Nations, Mr. Koufi Anan.

This meeting is to be held on February 9th, 1998 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Issues such as encouraging large investment projects and directing business men in the less developed countries will be discussed.(r)

Intellectual Property Draft Law in PALESTINE

Preparations are presently underway for enacting a law for the protection of intellectual property and preparing a draft law for this purpose.

The Ministry of Industry is the competent party for the preparation of the law and has an integrated unit called the Patents of Invention Unit.

This unit presently assumes responsibility for collecting similar laws which deal with intellectual property matters from other countries.

Acquiring such information is presently carried out through extensive contacts and with the assistance of the Internet.(r)

SYRIA: Copyright Draft Law

The Council of Ministers discussed in its session held earlier this month the Copyright Draft Law which aims at protecting the financial and literary rights of authors in the fields of literature, science, and art.(r)

BAHRAIN: Registration of Foreign Companies

The twentieth century is the age of globalization where countries are competing to attract investors from all-over the world by providing the healthy infrastructure needed for investors.

Bahrain is one of the important countries in the Gulf area. Although it is small in size, there is a large number of investment projects in the country. Rules were implemented to reflect the importance of foreign investment and to give investors the guidelines to establish their business.

Registration of foreign companies in Bahrain is subject to certain requirements which have to be fulfilled. A foreign company incorporated abroad and willing to establish a branch office or a subsidiary in Bahrain may do so by following the requirements provided for in the Companies Act.

Incorporation of foreign companies in Bahrain

The Companies Act of Bahrain permitted registration of an overseas company, provided that such company is registered outside Bahrain. In order to establish a subsidiary, an agency, or an office, the aforementioned law stipulates some requirements to be fulfilled:

1) A license from the Minister of Trade and Agriculture.
2) The company should have a merchant bailsman in Bahrain (individual or company) to ensure the seriousness and full compliance with the requirements stipulated in the Companies Act or any other act in connection with this process; it is also to safeguard against any illegal activities that may be conducted by the company. Such preconditions are not required from a regional office or a representative office.
3) After getting the approval of the Minister, such subsidiary, agency, or office should be registered in the Trade Register according to the process stipulated by the law.
4) The Minister of Trade and Agriculture may specify an amount of money to be deposited in a bank appointed by the Minister. Such deposit should be made in the name of the subsidiary, agency, or office to the order of the said Minister. The depositor should cover any decrease in the deposit due to preventive seizure resulting from any commercial activities conducted by himself.
5) A subsidiary, agency, or office of a foreign company should print on all papers, documents, and printed materials the full name of the company, address, and name of its agent in Arabic.

Registration of Overseas Companies

In order to enhance investment in Bahrain and to encourage foreign investors to conduct business in the country, the Companies Act allows fully overseas owned companies to register in Bahrain, under the following conditions:

1) Approval of both the Minister of Commerce and Agriculture and the Minister of Development and Industry.
2) The objective of such company should be the establishment of a plant or industrial plants in Bahrain.
3) The head office of the said company should be in Bahrain and the goods manufactured, or the services offered, should be distributed in Bahrain.
4) Activities of the company should also be specified if such company was a share-holding company and its shares should be subject to closed underwriting.

If the project is considered a development industrial project, the percentage of the amount of capital allocated for Bahraini nationals (which they are relieved from paying) may be granted. The Minister may also exempt the said companies from the minimum percentage requirement of share capital, which is 500 thousand for companies with public underwriting and 200 thousand for companies with a private underwriting.

In addition, the said Minister may allow the board of directors to hold their assembly meetings - being ordinary or extraordinary- outside Bahrain with conformity to the laws and regulations of the state of Bahrain.(r)

Enforcement of Intellectual Property Laws in the Arab Countries

The Status of Intellectual Property Laws in the Arab Countries

By reviewing the intellectual property legislation in the Arab countries and their most important aspects, one concludes that their political circumstances created an uncoordinated legislation inheritance in the Arab countries. While one group of Arab countries enacted its intellectual property laws in accordance with their foreign domineering legislation, another enacted its laws after independence and it was only recently that a third group of Arab countries drafted their intellectual property laws.

Thus, most of the Arab countries now have legislation in the field of intellectual property protection. Such legislation, however, may not be in conformity with the modern principles required by TRIPS agreement. In fact, many law amendments are still needed to be made in the Arab world to have adequate protection of intellectual property.

Aspects of Deficiency in Arab Legislation

One may categorize the deficiency in Arab legislation as deficiency in both legislation and enforcement. To be more precise, deficiency pertaining to legislation can be detected from the lack of rules and procedures, such as the absence of protection of service marks in trademark laws and admitting patents to products in patent laws, and from inadequacy of provisions relating to fees and penal procedures. Deficiency in enforcement can be seen from the absence of organized bodies capable of providing the special kind of protection needed for intellectual property elements. Objectives of the Arab countries to Develop the Field of Intellectual Property

One could highlight the objectives of the Arab countries in developing various intellectual property fields through coordinating the efforts on both national and international levels for the purpose of an ideal intellectual property system.

This can partially be achieved by emphasizing the necessity for developing the patent system by having official channels between various administrative and governmental bodies. This is in addition to laying down the proper infrastructure for the Industrial Property Office and the public policy and governing laws. In this regard, implementing a policy for science and technology is naturally useful.

In this context, the Arab Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (ASPIP) assumes an important role of contribution to Arab development in this field. The Society is seeking dissemination of knowledge of intellectual property issues.

Since 1992, the Society has called for establishing a unified Arab Patent Office in order that the protection measures have an Arab regional characteristic in support of joint Arab efforts.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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