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Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Patent Office Ceases Accepting New Patent Filings

Following the 41st meeting of the Supreme Council of the GCC held on 5 January 2021, newly amended patent law regulations for the Gulf Cooperation Council have been approved. It has been informally announced that, as of 6 January 2021, the GCC Patent Office has stopped accepting new patent application filings.

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), was established 30 years ago, forming a trade bloc between the GCC Member States, namely the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. The GCC Patent Office offered applicants a convenient route to obtain protection in all GCC Member States via a single application.

This announcement has come as a surprise and disappointment to many who have benefited from the ease of obtaining unified patent rights offered by the GCC Patent Office. Applicants can expect increased costs for obtaining equivalent patent protection across the GCC member states, alongside more onerous requirements concerning the provision of signature documents.

Where there is a desire to obtain patent protection in any of the GCC states, applicants with a priority founding application may now either:

a) File a patent application in each GCC Member State of interest claiming priority from a priority founding application within the 12 month priority period set by the Paris Convention; or

b) File an international PCT patent application claiming priority from a priority founding application within the 12 month priority period set by the Paris Convention, and subsequently entering the national phase in each GCC member state of interest before the relevant deadline.

Prospective applicants should consider the additional eighteen months of time that the PCT route, Route b, provides to evaluate an invention’s success before national filings as opposed to Route a.

For pending GCC patent applications filed on or before 5 January 2021, the GCC patent office will continue to process, examine and grant pending patent applications. Additionally, the GCC patent office will continue to accept the payment of renewal fees for all granted GCC patents, and this expected to continue until the expiration of the last granted GCC patent.

It is expected that a formal communication and further updates will be issued by the GCC Supreme Council following this recent decision. We will continue to provide additional information as and when it becomes available.

If you require any further information or assistance in connection with your intellectual property, or the intellectual property of your business, then please contact Murgitroyd.

Rosalie Hide, Patent Scientist, rosalie.hide@murgitroyd.com