Although Industrial Designs Law 8/2002 was issued in June 2002, the implementing regulations were not subsequently issued and the law never came into force. Accordingly, protection for designs until now has been by way of cautionary notices. A cautionary notice is effectively a public notification of a claim to own a design, but not a statutorily enforceable right.
On 16 March 2017, Qatar's Cabinet has approved a new Industrial Designs Law and Executive Implementing Regulations that will allow the law to be implemented. The draft law and regulations have not yet been published. Qatar's Emir needs to sign the law and regulations and then these will proceed to be gazetted.
i) Context for Developments in Qatar's IP Protection Regime
The absence of an effective design right has long be a frustration to rights holders. In the past few years, Qatar has taken several steps to strengthen its intellectual property regime as part of its focus on reducing economic reliance on traditional oil and gas industries and move towards an innovation/knowledge based economy. Other steps have included joining the Patent Co-Operation Treaty and commencing prosecution of patent applications (as opposed to just accepting filings).
Qatar will also be hosting FIFA's showpiece World Cup in 2022 and will need to provide an effective intellectual property protection and enforcement environment as part of its host nation responsibilities.
ii) What Should Rights Holders Do?
Design applications still cannot file at the Intellectual Property Office until the law and regulations take effect. However, rights holders should watch for the implementation date and be prepared to commence filing of design applications as soon as the new law and regulations come into force, particularly taking advantage of convention priority where possible.
Likely to be of most interest in the initial period will be the transitional provisions and whether these will allow a period for publicly disclosed designs (that would not otherwise be protectable) to be registered, for example, those designs previously subjected to a cautionary notice.
iii) GCC Context
This development now leaves Oman as the only country in the GCC where it is not possible to file an application for industrial design protection, due to lack of implementing regulations. Although Kuwait accepts design applications for filings, these are not yet being actively prosecuted.
This note is intended as a summary and does not constitute legal advice. For further information or advice, please contact your normal Rouse contact or email@example.com.
This note has been prepared by Rouse & Co. International's MENA practice