GeneralWhile Bahrain does have laws pertaining to the protection of patents, trademarks and copyrights, they are often considered inadequate by Western standards despite the fact that Bahrain has recently ratified the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, and is contemplating joining the Madrid Agreement regarding the International Registration of Marks. Bahrain’s intellectual property legislation includes the Copyright Law of 1993 and the Patent, Design and Trademark Law of 1995. Notwithstanding the Copyright Law of 1993, works may be separately registered through a cumbersome and expensive process with the Ministry of Information which grants greater protection to the creator of the copyrighted material than the Copyright Law. The country is a signatory to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement (TRIPS) and must become compliant by January 1, 2000.
PatentsPatents, trademarks and designs are protected in Bahrain by virtue of the Patent, Design and Trademark Law of 1995, as periodically amended. Protection is based on registration at the Patents and Trademarks Registration Office.
If a registered patent or design is not used within two years of the filing date of the application to register, third parties may apply to the court for the registration to be revoked.
The validity of a patent registration is for fifteen years only. It can be renewed for five years provided that the patent is of special significance and the income realized from it during the original term is not reasonable relative to the expenses incurred. The other procedures and protection regarding patents are similar to those of trademarks. One exception is that registration of patents in Bahrain requires either a home registration or any other foreign registration of the patent.
DesignsThe validity of a design registration in Bahrain is for five years, renewable for two further terms of five years each. The other procedures of registration are similar to those of trademarks. One exception is that a design registration of designs in Bahrain requires either a home registration or any other foreign registration of the design.
TrademarksAccording to the Patent, Design and Trademark Law, a trademark registration is valid for ten years from the date of filing the application. Thereafter, a trademark registration is renewable for periods of ten years each. Trademarks are defined as everything that takes a distinctive form such as names, words, signatures, characters, number, drawings, etc., if used in distinguishing products, goods or services.
Trademark rights are acquired by registration, however, a trademark application can be opposed successfully upon producing sufficient proof of the prior use of the mark in Bahrain and elsewhere around the world. Marks which are not renewed will be canceled by the Commercial Registry. Unlawfully registered marks may be canceled by a court.
Once a trademark application is filed, the trademark is examined as to its registerability. Trademark applications accepted by the Registrar are in the Official Gazette. There is a sixty-day period open for filing an opposition by any interested party. An authorized agent or the proprietors themselves as from the date of publication should present an opposition to the registration of a trademark before the Registrar within the prescribed period. Such an opposition case is settled by the Registrar. In the absence of opposition, a published trademark is registered, and the certificate of registration is issued.
Use of trademarks in Bahrain is not compulsory for filing applications for registration nor for maintaining trademark registrations in force. But a trademark is subject to cancellation and may be canceled by any party who can establish that the trademark was not actually used during the five years immediately preceding the application for cancellation or that there was no bona fide intention of using the trademark on the goods in respect of which the trademark was registered.
Unauthorized use of a trademark registered under the law or an imitation of such trademark applied on goods of the same class, or sale, storing for the purpose of sale, or exhibiting for sale of goods bearing a counterfeit mark, or using a mark duly registered under the law by another person to serve the purpose of unauthorized promotion of goods of the same class are offenses punishable by law in Bahrain.
CopyrightThe Copyright Law was introduced to Bahrain's legislative system in 1993. The Copyright Law protects authors of intellectual property such as books, paintings, photographs, cinematographic, radio and television works and personally created computer software and databases and was enacted in order to combat pirating of videotapes, audiotapes, artistic work and computer software.
Ministerial Order 4 of 1993 established a Copyright Protection Office in the Ministry of Information. The Copyright Protection Office examines applications for copyright protection, accepts the deposit of works after payment of fees, and registers the transfer of copyrights. The Office is also responsible for examining international copyright agreements and implementing those which Bahrain has executed.
The Copyright Law applies to: (1) the works of Bahraini authors which are published for the first time, whether in or outside of Bahrain; (2) works of foreign authors that are published for the first time in Bahrain; and (3) works of Arab authors who are nationals of a Member State that has ratified the Arab Copyright Protection Agreement of 1958 and whose work is published for the first time in a Member State.
Copyright protection lapses, in general, fifty years after the death of the author or, in the event of jointly owned intellectual property, fifty years after the death of the last surviving author.
With respect to the following works, the protection lapses fifty calendar years after the date of publication: (1) films, photographs and applied art; (2) works published under a pseudonym; (3) works which belong to a corporate entity; and (4) works first published after the author's death.
In the case of computer software, the copyright protection will lapse either fifty years after the completion of the work or forty years from the date of publication, whichever is earlier.
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