Worldwide: IP Regional Update – February 2016

Last Updated: 18 February 2016
Article by Clyde & Co LLP

Market updates and insights from around the region. This month we report on news from Bahrain, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Bahrain

Official fee increase expected in Bahrain

The Bahraini Trade Mark Office have indicated that an increase in the official fees for prosecution work can be expected in the coming months. As yet, there are no details on what the increase will be and whether it will be as significant as we have seen in other countries, such as Kuwait and the UAE.

Egypt

Anti-counterfeiting barcode system brought in by the Ministry of Supply

A new interactive barcode system has been launched by the Ministry of Supply and the Ministry of Military Production in Egypt. Consumers will be able to send an SMS from their mobile phones with a scan of the barcode on food or pharmaceutical products and will receive an instant verification as to whether the product is genuine or not. Consumers will then also have the option of reporting counterfeits to the authorities through an SMS.

At the moment, brand owners may opt into the service should they wish, although it is thought that it will eventually become mandatory.

Qatar

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) seizes 3,382 counterfeit CDs and DVDs.

The Peninsula Qatar Daily Newspaper has reported that inspectors from the MEC have seized 3,382 pirated CDs and DVDs along with a device used to make the infringing discs.

This comes following the MEC's recent announcement that it will continue to prevent the manufacture and sale of pirated software in the country.

Saudi Arabia

Amendments to Patent Regulations in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian Patent Office has issued amended Implementing Regulations to the Law of Patents, Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits, Plant Varieties and Industrial Design.  The Implementing Regulations came into effect on 19 December 2015, and they include a number of significant changes including:

  • Annuity fees are to be calculated from PCT filing date, rather than national phase entry date

Article 65 of the amended Implementing Regulations states that:

"Upon the designation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for protection and after the application reaches the National Phase, an annual fee shall be payable for the applications as from the international filing date and the applicant must pay the said fee for the previous years on the maturity date of the first fee. In case the applicant failed to pay the same within the prescribed deadline, a doubled annual fee shall be payable for all the payable years."

The calculation of the annuities is now from the PCT filing date, rather than the date of entry into the national phase.  In practice, this means that all back dated annuities must be paid on the maturity date, which is taken as 1 January of each calendar year.  Outstanding fees should be paid prior to 31 March 2016 in order to avoid late penalties.

If the fees are not paid by 31 March 2016, there is a grace period until 30 June 2016 to pay the fees with penalties.

Moving forward, for all new PCT national phase filings, the back-dated annuity fees will be due from the next calendar year of filing the National Phase application.

  • The deadline for submitting supporting documents to patent applications is reduced from 90 days to 60 days (but extensions are available)

All supporting documents (Power of Attorney and Deed of Assignment) must now be filed within 60 days of the date of filing.  However, all deadlines (excluding annuity fees) can now be extended by two months upon payment of an official fee. In effect, this extends the original 90 days to 120 days (upon payment of the applicable fee).

  • Lapsed patents may now be restored

The amended Implementing Regulations allow for lapsed patents to be restored if there are "compelling reasons" as to why the applicable deadline was missed and / or the lapse of the patent was outside of the applicant's control.  The restoration action must be filed within 2 months of the lapsed deadline, or within 12 months of the date of refusal (whichever is the earlier).

  • Period for claiming priority extended

Applicants may now add or amend a priority claim within 2 months of the expiry of the 12 month priority period (ie a total of 14 months from the priority founding date). The applicant must pay the required official fees and provide reasons as to why the priority claim was not added / supported / correct at the time of filing.  

UAE

Specialist IP department to be created within UAE Federal Courts

WAM, the official news agency of the UAE, has reported that the UAE Ministry of Justice is to set up a judicial department to settle intellectual property cases. 

This announcement refers to Ministerial Resolution No. 137 of 2016 under which specialised judicial departments are to be created within the UAE Federal Court system to handle intellectual property cases and commercial and civil cases for minor claims valued at a maximum amount of AED 20,000 (approximately USD 5,500).

The stated aim of this initiative is to speed up the handling of litigation before the courts.  The report also refers to a training programme developed by the Judicial Inspection Department for judges and relevant officials in the handling of minor claims and intellectual property cases.

UAE

Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 ranks the UAE 22nd globally in intellectual property rights protection

The World Economic Forum in its Global Competitiveness Report for 2015-2016 has ranked the UAE as the 22nd best country globally for the protection of intellectual property rights.

Dubai's Department of Economic Development recently reported that it had confiscated over 63 million infringing items in 2015 with an estimated market value of AED 1.01 billion. This is almost a 50% increase on the previous year.

In related news, Dubai's Customs Department has reported that between January and September 2015, it carried out 101 seizures of counterfeit products coming into Dubai.

UAE

5th Regional Conference on Combating Crime against Intellectual Property in the Middle East and North Africa Region

The 5th Regional Conference on Combating Crime against Intellectual Property in the Middle East and North Africa Region took place in Dubai in November 2015.

The conference, which was attended by professionals and government officials within the field of intellectual property protection, aimed to open discussion between local and foreign users to assist in understanding current threats and share ideas on how these threats can be tackled.

UAE

The Intellectual Property Protection Advisory Board to clean up counterfeits in Dubai

The Department of Economic Development in Dubai (DED) has launched an Intellectual Property Protection Advisory Board.  It is expected that the Board will comprise an official of the DED, along with interested members from various sectors (ie automobiles, fashion and beauty).   The DED anticipates that the Board will meet on a quarterly basis in order to obtain feedback on the current state of counterfeits and to develop ideas on how to combat counterfeit products in the UAE.

IP Regional Update – February 2016

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