January 25, 2021

Amendments to the operation of the Gulf Cooperation Council Patent Office

After 20 years of operation, the Gulf Cooperation Council Patent Office (GCCPO) announced on January 5, 2021 that it had ceased the acceptance of new patent applications as of January 6, 2021. The decision is accompanied by the introduction of an amended GCC patent law, which is not yet available to the public.

The GCCPO is a regional patent office covering all GCC Member States, inclusive of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, and was established in 1992. The GCC itself was formed in 1981 with the intention of providing unity among the patent systems of the countries, deepening cooperation, and to facilitate the growth of science and technology in industry and other fields of the GCC. The GCCPO allowed for patent applications to be submitted covering protection in all six countries of the GCC, receiving its first application on October 3, 1998.

The halting of new applications by the GCCPO is a by-product of the amended GCC Patent Law (Regulation), approved on January 6, 2021, meaning that applicants will no longer be able to file one application covering the 6 countries of the GCC. As an alternative, an applicant may file a national patent application in each individual GCC Member State that they wish to obtain protection, through the Paris Convention or PCT.

Pending patent applications filed through the GCCPO on or before January 5, 2021 are, for the time being, still subject to the process of examination and granting by the patent office, ensuring patent protection in all of the GCC Member States from the date of grant. As the future of the GCCPO is not certain in this regard, and the amended patent law is not yet available to the public, applicants may wish to consider filing their pending GCCPO applications in each individual GCC state to cover any eventuality.

The amendments to the GCC patent legislation, and subsequent changes to the operations of the GCCPO, remain somewhat uncertain. Applicants are reminded to consider all possibilities in relation to their intellectual property in the region, and consider consulting a patent attorney through IP-Coster in the event of requiring legal professional assistance.

Author: Danielle Carvey