The Royal Decree No. M/38 dated 10.06.1409 A.H. provides for the protection of patents in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Directorate of Patents at the King Abdul-Aziz City of Science and Technology is deemed as the "Patent Office" and has the authority to grant patents in the country.

Once an application for the grant of a patent is filed with the Patent Office, it will be examined with respect to the compliance of the applicant with the formalities. If executed satisfactorily, the application receives a filing number and the filing date is secured.

The definition of an invention includes any new article, method of manufacture, or improvement in either of them. Product patents are also protected. Absolute universal novelty is stipulated by the Patent Law. An invention is new only if it is not anticipated by the prior art, which covers anything disclosed to the public anywhere and at any time, by means of a written or oral disclosure, by use, or in any other way before the relevant filing date or priority date. However, patent applications can be filed for those inventions for which corresponding applications elsewhere have been published and/or granted. In fact, the Patent Office requests information and documents relating to patents published and/or granted elsewhere because such documents facilitate the examination.

A patent is valid for fifteen years from the decision of grant and can be extended for another five years. A patent is subject to annuity payments, which are to be paid only one year after the decision of the grant of the patent.

Naming the inventor is compulsory, and the rights to a patent belong solely to the inventor; such rights can be assigned with or without consideration. The manufacturer should mark the number and date of the patent on the product covered by the patent issued in Saudi Arabia. Failure to do so may deprive the patentee of the right to claim damages for patent infringement.

The granting of a license does not prevent the patentee from utilizing the patent or from granting a license on the same patent to another person, unless otherwise restricted in the original license agreement. The licensee may not assign the rights and privileges conferred on him, unless his ability to do so is expressly stipulated in the license agreement.

The patentee may exploit the invention covered by the patent as a full industrial application in the country within two years from the date of grant. Based on reasonable grounds and upon the request of the patentee, this period can be extended for a period not exceeding two years. If a patent has not been exploited in the country within two years plus any extensions obtained, the Patent Office may grant a compulsory license for exploiting the patent to any person upon application, provided that the applicant proves his capability of exploiting the patent fully.

Saudi Arabia is party to the Gulf Cooperation Patent Law.

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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