Unlike other intellectual property (IP) offices in the region, the GCC PO undertakes full formal and substantive examination of patent applications in line with international standards. The office further enhanced its service offerings in March 2016 with the adoption of more streamlined and efficient patent grant procedures.
A unitary system
Following the enactment of the GCC Patent Law in 1992, the GCC PO grants patents under a unitary system, meaning the patents it grants are valid in all GCC member states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).
Since the first GCC patent application was submitted on October 3, 1998, some 38,000 patent applications have been filed with the office. The aim now is to encourage even greater use of the GCC Patent System by applicants both within the region and beyond.
Prior to March 2016, the GCC PO’s patent grant process involved broad consultation among the IP authorities of GCC member states. Batches of examined patent applications deemed patentable by the GCC PO were sent to the IP authorities of each member state for substantive comment. In the event that a national IP authority objected to a proposed patent grant, they were required to inform the GCC PO within 45 days.
Thousands of patent applications were circulated to GCC member states under this procedure. However, only very few applications raised comments or objections.
When objections were made, a bilateral negotiation to overcome the objection would take place between the GCC PO and the national IP authority concerned. This often led to amendment of the claims, as well as to clarification of and corrections to bibliographic and priority data, following consultations with the applicant, as required.
If no comments or objections were received within the 45-day period, the GCC PO issued the grant decision, and, upon payment of the relevant fees by the applicant, the office would publish the full specification of the granted patent on its website.
If there were no objections from third parties within a period of three months from the date of publication (per Article 11 of the GCC Patent Law), the GCC PO delivered the granted letters of patent to the applicant.
Third party challenges
The current GCC patent law, as amended in November 1999, does not provide for the possibility of a third party to challenge the granted patent. In practice, however, it is possible for any third party to challenge a...