GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Intellectual Property Protection in the GCC member States - 20 years after the TRIPs Agreement
Paper Proposal Text :
The year 2015 represents something of a milestone in the area of international intellectual property protection, in that it also constitutes the 20th anniversary of the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the introduction of the WTO's Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement), as the new global minimum standards benchmark for intellectual property protection.

This paper examines the status over those last 20 years of the national legislative regimes for the protection of intellectual property rights in the six states of the Arabian Peninsula that constitute 'The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf', otherwise known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), that are also members of the WTO, namely:

- The Kingdom of Bahrain;
- The State of Kuwait;
- The Sultanate of Oman;
- The State of Qatar;
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and
- The United Arab Emirates (the UAE).

The paper also examines the performance of the GCC member States in protecting intellectual property rights in the context of the TRIPs Agreement, the international conventions for the protection of intellectual property rights upon which the Agreement draws and builds, and regional and bilateral trade agreements which herald a movement away from the earlier reliance upon the TRIPs Agreement of 20 years ago.

The intellectual property laws of the GCC member States reflect a common heritage. They contain many similarities with each other, indicating an ongoing process of mutual collaboration and borrowings. They have also drawn much from countries in the region which progressed through an earlier modernization/ westernization process, notably Egypt, and other Arab states through their influence in regional groups such as the League of Arab States, and the GCC itself. However, the major influences in the construction of their legislative regimes and the character of the intellectual property laws have undoubtedly been twofold:

- the creation of the WTO, and the mandatory compliance with the TRIPs Agreement provisions as one requirement of WTO membership; and

- the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as the administrator of the TRIPs Agreement, and the influence of the statutory models it provides through its various draft laws and technical assistance.

Nevertheless, the States’ intellectual property laws still contain their own particular idiosyncrasies, arising from, for example, the status of Shariah law and its relationship to intellectual property, regional attitudes towards enforcement, protection of geographical indications, wines and spirits, moral rights and translations of copyright works, compulsory licencing, protection of pharmaceuticals, and even the Arab Boycott of Israel (for which statutory provision existed in earlier commercial and intellectual property laws, but which has now been generally removed).