Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Intellectual Property Law in Oman

Oman has an estimated population of 3.6 million in a land area of 309,501 square kilometres. It is a member of the Gulf Co-operation Council ("GCC") and the World Trade Organization ("WTO"). Formerly one of the least developed states in the Gulf, the Sultanate has made such rapid progress since 1970 in economic, political and social development that the United Nations Development Programme acclaimed Oman as the most improved country in the world (see the UNDP Human Development Report for 4 Nov 2010).

As a member of the WTO Oman is party to TRIPS (the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) and is thereby bound by the obligations discussed in my article on "Intellectual Property Law in Kuwait". As a member of the GCC, the GCC Patent Regulation and Implementing Bylaws apply in Oman. Oman is also party to the Paris and Berne Conventions, the WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties, the Patent and Trademark Law Treaties, the UPOV Convention and the Patent Co-operation Treaty, Madrid Protocol and Hague Agreement (see the WIPO Treaties Contracting Parties page for Oman).

Oman implements its obligations under those treaties through a number of Royal Decrees made in 2000 on patents, copyrights and neighbouring rights, trade marks and unfair competition, industrial designs, geographical indications and semiconductor topographies. The Sultanate's copyright law has been supplemented by Royal Decree No. 65/2008 Promulgating the Law on Copyright and Related Rights and its law on industrial property rights by Royal Decree No 67/2008. Royal Decree No 49/2009 on the protection of plant breeders' rights has come into effect this year the text of which is available in Arabic.

Intellectual Property Office
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is the intellectual property office for the Sultanate. The English language page of the Ministry's website suggests that it will soon be possible to file patent, utility model and trade mark applications on-line.

Dispute Resolution
Oman has enacted robust arbitration legislation which would resolve licensing, joint venture and other disputes relating to intellectual property. A press release on 16 March 2010 indicated that the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry planned to establish an international arbitration centre in the country. A delegation from the Bar of England and Wales visited Oman in December 2010 (see the Bar Council's press release of 3 Dec 2010).

Further Information
Oman is a country of considerable potential and one that I follow particularly closely. Anyone who wishes to discuss this article or any other issue concerning intellectual property law in the Gulf should call me on 0800 862 0055 or complete my contact form.

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