Thursday, 21 February 2013

Patent Law in Oman

I have already mentioned the intellectual property law of Oman ("Intellectual Property Law in Oman" 31 Aug 2011), the Intellectual property treaties and conventions to which Oman is party and its intellectual property office ("Gulf Co-operation Council Member States - Treaties and Intellectual Property Authorities" 10 May 2012). As Oman is party to the Gulf Co-operation Council Charter, those seeking patent protection in Oman can apply to the GCC Patent Office for a GCC patent or to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Oman for an Oman patent.  I discussed GCC patents in my article "Patents: Gulf Co-operation Council" on 21 Jan 2011.  In this article I shall consider the domestic patent law of Oman.

The sources of this law are the Royal Decree No. 67/2008 relating to Industrial Property Rights and their Enforcement for the Sultanate of Oman ("the Decree") and Regulations No. 105/2008 under the Law on Industrial Property Rights & Their Enforcement for the Sultanate of Oman ("the Regulations"). The Decree came into force on the 17 May 2008 and the Regulations on the 2 Dec 2008. Both the Decree and Regulations provide for utility models, industrial designs, semiconductor topographies, trade marks, geographical indications and unfair competition as well as patents for inventions.

S.96 (1) of the Decree requires the Director of Intellectual Property (referred to as "the Registrar") to keep separate registers for patents, utility models, industrial designs, layout designs, marks, collective marks, certification marks and geographical indications.   Those registers are open to public inspection and  are maintained by the Oman Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

A patent may be granted if the invention is "new, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable" pursuant to s.3 (1) of the Decree,  S,2 (1) excludes the following from patent protection:
"(a) Discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
(b) Schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games;
(c) Natural substances; this provision shall not apply to the processes of isolating those natural substances from their original environment;
(d) Known substances for which a new use has been discovered; this provision shall not apply to the use itself, where it constitutes an invention under Section 1;
(e) Animals other than micro-organisms, and essentially biological processes for the production of animals and their parts, other than non-biological and microbiological processes;
(f) Inventions, the prevention within the territory of Oman of the commercial exploitation of which is necessary to protect ordre public and morality; such exclusion shall not be made merely because the exploitation of those inventions is prohibited by law."

As for computer programs, s.2 (2) provides that s.3 (1) shall not apply to the following inventions:
"(a) Process inventions which, in whole or in part, consist of steps that are performed by a computer and are directed by a computer program; and
(b) Product inventions consisting of elements of a computer-implemented invention, including in particular:
(i) Machine-readable computer program code stored on a tangible medium such as a floppy disk, computer hard drive or computer memory; and
(ii) a general purpose computer whose novelty over the prior art arises primarily due to its combination with a specific computer program "

S.5 (1) provides:
"The application for a patent shall be filed with the Registrar and shall contain a request, a description, one or more claims, one or more drawings (where required), and an abstract. It shall be subject to the payment of the prescribed application fee."
Art 3 (1) of the Regulations requires applications for a patent to be made on a prescribed form which can be downloaded from the Ministry website together with the tariff of the applicable fees.  If the Registrar is of opinion that the Decree has been complied with he must grant a patent pursuant to s.10 (1).   Otherwise the application must be refused.

Scope of Monopoly
 S.11 (1) of the Decree provides that:

  • a patent shall confer on its owner the right to prevent third parties from exploiting the patented invention in Oman; and
  • the right of the patent owner is defined by the claims.
Patents are granted for 20 years (s.12 (1)) but are subject to compulsory licensing under s.13 and revocation under s.14.   Infringements of those rights are actionable in the courts of Oman under s.66 of the Decree.  Remedies include injunctions (interim as well as perpetual) and compensatory damages.

Further Information
Should anyone wish to discuss this article or any aspect of intellectual property law in Oman, he or she can call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send a message through my contact form.   I am now practising from 4-5 Gray's Inn Square in London which has considerable expertise in international and intellectual property law. You can also follow me on Facebook, Linkedin, twitter and Xing.