The 6 Gulf countries;
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates;
Decided to come together to form a unitary, uniform and harmonised cooperation council to ensure a single system of patent rights protection by way of a single application covering all the 6 participating countries.
This council which came to be named as ‘The Gulf Cooperation Council’ set out to bring all the 6 states at par with a common law pertaining to patent rights and protection. This parity ensured a smooth and effective filing, protection and implementation system wherein applicants have the ease of seeking effective patent rights over their inventions.
The GCC in this process of revamping their patent protection system, also became TRIPS compliant along with appropriate amendments to their state laws. This ensured that GCC is up to the mark with other global systems and conventions.
The GCC came into force from the year 2000.
Before the existence of the GCC patent law, and office, there were only two patent offices functioning in the region, the patent offices of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
To begin with, GCC patent law was modelled and formatted after the Saudi patent law and byelaws in cooperation with the Saudi patent office. Minor changes and amendments were done to the Saudi patent law to make it more suitable for a regional system and to comply with the TRPS requirements.
According to the former GCC patent law of 1992, national and regional patents were not granted for the same invention, which was overcome by the new GCC law.
Filing procedure with the GCC:
It is to be noted that there are no branch offices to the GCC as it has a centralised office for the receipt of all patent applications at the Secretariat General for the Arab States for the Gulf in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Nationals and Residents of GCC member states may apply directly to the patent office whereas, Non-Residents have to apply through representation by a local agent.
Our Attorneys are at hand to assist with filing and obtaining patent protection with the GCC.
Applicants have to be aware about GCC’s non-membership with either the Paris convention or the Patent cooperation treaty. Hence, the pct –route is not available, only claiming of priority is recognised, however, applicants must ensure filing of applications with the GCC within 12months of the priority date. Also, priority from GCC is therefore not recognised elsewhere, but as GCC is TRIPS compliant, priority arising out of other treaties and conventions is recognised.
The official languages in which applications are filed and processed in the GCC are, English and Arabic.
Upon receipt of the application at the GCC office, the application is given a formalities check comprising of a compliance examination relating to all the requisite documentation such as:
- Filing of certified priority documents
- Power of Attorney
- Specification either in Arabic or English
In the event the examiner asks for compliances with irregularities in the formality requirements, the same have to be furnished and complied with in 3 months time.
Upon the application passing the formalities check, a report is communicated to the applicant and/or his agent with a notification regarding payment of search and substantive examination fees along with further documentation if any within 3 months from the date of notification.
Search and Examination:
Search and Substantive examination is carried out by the GCC office as well as through the collaborated external patent offices from Australia, Austria, Sweden, Japan etc.
Owing to the diversity of the technological fields in which patent applications are filed with the GCC, some applications are initially searched and substantially examined by the GCC patent office while the remaining are sent to the external patent offices as aforementioned based on the expertise in the technological fields for further search and examination.
To therefore facilitate this extensive search and examination process, applicants are directed by the GCC to file hard copies of the applications in both Arabic and English versions along with soft copies in English.
GCC Patent grant and Publication:
Post substantive examination, the examiner concludes registrability of the patent upon satisfaction that the applicant has complied with all the terms, conditions and requisites as laid down in the GCC patent rules and regulations, the GCC patent office grants the patent.
The granted patent is then published in the patent gazette in Arabic and English.
Post recordal of the patent grant onto the Patent Register, the patent certificate is issued to the owner within 3 months from the date of publication.
A GCC patent grants holds uniform validity in all the 6 member states. Post publication, interested parties can inspect the official gazette for a fee and file oppositions within 3 months from the date of publication with the GCC patent grievance committee.
Patent infringements will be dealt with by patent offices of the member countries.
Annuity and Maintenance:
Patents have a life of 20 yrs. From the date of the filing of the patent application.
Maintenance fees have to be payed annually on the due date to maintain the patent.