The legal regime regarding patents and trademarks is similar to that of England, and registered owners of intellectual property are provided with adequate protection. Egypt is a signatory to the Paris Convention of the Protection of Intellectual Property and the Madrid Agreement regarding international registration of trademarks. Furthermore, Egypt is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The law on Patents and Industrial Designs, Law No. 132 of 1949, as amended, grants inventors fifteen years of patent protection from the date of application. In some cases, it may be extended for an additional five-year term. The patent holder has exclusive rights to the invention and may license, assign, pledge or in any other way act with regard to the patent. At the end of the patent protection period, the invention enters the public domain.
A new patent law has been drafted recently. The new law, if approved, would extend the patent protection period to twenty years and widen the definition of an "invention" as protected by the law. Unlike the current patent law, the draft law provides for a substantive examination of the patent application before granting the patent. The draft law also provides that not only the patentee but also any other party who introduced adjustments, improvements or additions to a patent invention shall have the right to apply and obtain an independent patent.
Egypt has adopted the Paris Convention, and, accordingly, a patent application filed in a member country entitles the applicants to apply for a patent in Egypt within one year.
The Trademarks Law No. 47 of 1939, as amended, grants a ten year protection period to trademark holders from the date of application. The trademark is renewable for similar periods without restriction; an application must be filed for each renewal period.
The Copyright Law No. 354 of 1954, provides copyright protection for, inter alia, written works, paintings, sculpture and architecture, theater and musical pieces, photographs and cinematographic films, television and radio works for publication, maps, and speeches. A 1992 amendment to the Copyright Law stiffened the penalties available under the Copyright Law and also provides for protection of videotapes.
A 1994 amendment to the Copyright Law treats computer software as literary work and guarantees it a fifty-year term of protection. Protection under the Copyright Law terminates fifty years following the demise of the author. Should the copyrighted material be owned by a legal entity rather than a natural person, then the fifty year protection period begins on the date the material was first published. The author may assign the rights granted to him by the law to other persons, subject to certain limitations set by the law.
Some industrial designs and models (such as design features of products and designs new in many items) can be registered with the Office for Registration of Industrial Designs. Registration provides protection for a period of six years and is renewable for two additional five-year terms.
A committee was formed at the Ministry of Commerce and Supply to draft a unified act to govern all elements of intellectual property. The new act is to include the existing laws concerning copyrights, models, industrial designs, and patents of invention and trademarks. In addition, the act will extend the protection period for industrial designs and models to renewable periods of ten years. It will also provide for substantive examination of the model, design or patent to ensure that it is novel and innovative. The proposed act sets severe penalties for intellectual rights infringement.
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