Patent owners in the Gulf region are well aware of the pros, but also of the few deficiencies of the current local patent systems. One of these less desired effects is the long timeframe usually elapsing between application, examination, and grant that can easily take up several years. To a certain extent, this may be attributed to the practice of outsourcing the substantial examination to foreign Offices (such as the Austrian or Chinese PTO); or, on the other hand, to the rather fresh-faced experience of the local examiners.
However, the repeatedly announced determination of the GCC member states to foster innovation - accompanied by million-dollar R&D programs and state aids granted to innovators - finally bears its fruits. Recently, three out of the seven GCC PTOs have introduced some of the improvements the patent community has long been waiting for:
- GCC has increased its number of examiners by 50%. The goal is to handle all examinations in-house in the near future and to reduce the time from application to grant to an initial maximum of three years.
- Oman has started substantive examination (as of now, regarding patent applications filed between 2003 and 2007) after having engaged the Egyptian Patent Office to lend a hand. The examination fees for the said pending applications are due within two months from the publication of the new Regulation (on the 2nd of November 2014). Non-payment will lead to the lapse of the respective applications.
- UAE has started to intensify its substantive examination (regarding all patent applications filed since 2008) after having invited examiners from the Korean Patent Office to share their experience and transfer their know-how.
The examination fees for applications filed in the triennium 2011 - 2013 are due within 90 days from the publication of the new Regulation (on the 26th of October 2014). Again, non-paid rights shall be deemed lapsed. Moreover, for all new applications filed since 1st of November 2014, the examination fee is due together with the application fee, or at the latest within 90 days thereafter.
Consequently, patent owners are requested to pay the concerned examination fees in Oman before January 4, 2015 and in the UAE by January 25, 2015, respectively.
All eyes are now on Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar to see if and how they will draw level. Specifically, Kuwait could well move ahead by becoming the latest PCT member (after Saudi Arabia and Iran in 2013), which would also enable the GCC Office to follow suit.
Thus, with the new governmental initiatives, may the Arab IP season continue...
Dennemeyer’s Dubai Office is accredited to represent clients before the UAE and GCC PTOs. Please contact Jan Wrede at firstname.lastname@example.org or +971 (0) 4430 3943 for any further information or assistance you may require.