Thursday, 14 July 2011

Intellectual Property Law in Kuwait

Kuwait has an estimated population of just under 3.6 million in a land area of 17,820 square kilometres. It is one of the member states of the Gulf Co-operation Council ("GCC") (see "Gulf Co-operation Council Constitutional Framework" 10 June 2011 and "Patents: Gulf Co-operation Council" 20 Jan 2011).

International Obligations
This small but significant country is one of the founding members of the World Trade Organization ("WTO"). As such it is party to TRIPS (The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) which requires WTO members to give effect to the provisions of that agreement. That includes
Kuwait has been a member of the WIPO since 14 July 1998 but it does not appear to be party to the Paris or Berne Conventions or the Washington Treaty. Indeed, the only convention listed on the WIPO website to which Kuwait is party is the WIPO Convention.

The Kuwaiti government has entered a number of bilateral investment treaties with a number of countries (though not with HM government) which usually require the protection of intellectual property. Citizens of either party can sometimes claim compensation in ICSID (International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes) against the government of the other party for non-compliance with such a treaty (see Metalclad Corp. v Mexico (30 Aug 2000)).

A summary of Kuwait intellectual property laws and related legislation appears in WIPO lex. The main statutes appear to be:
  • Law number 4 of 1962 relating to patents, designs and industrial models as amended by law number 3 of 2001 (Arabic and English);
  • Law number 64 of 1999 concerning intellectual property rights (Arabic and English); and
  • Decree number 68 of 1980 on trade marks as amended by decree no 10 of 1987 (Arabic only).
As Kuwait is party to the GCC, the Patent Regulation and the Implementing Bye-laws of the GCC will also apply.

Dispute Resolution
Industrial property disputes can be resolved through arbitration pursuant to Law No. 11 of 1995 regarding judicial arbitration with respect to civil and commercial matters (Arabic and English). The Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry appears to provide arbitration services.

Intellectual Property Offices
According to WIPO the competent authority for patents and trade marks is the Trade Marks and Patent Department of the Ministry for Commerce and Industry at PO Box 2944, Safat 13030, Kuwait City, Tel +956 22 42 44 26. That Ministry is also responsible for copyright policy.

The GCC Patent Office is at the GCC Offices, PO Box 340227, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 11333 (see Patents: Gulf Co-operation Council 20 Jan 2011).

Further Information
Anyone requiring further information about this article should call me on 0800 962 0055 or use my contact form. I have two contacts in Kuwait to whom I shall be glad to refer any enquiries on any substantial issue of Kuwaiti law.

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