Protection of Property Rights
Real property rights are recognized and enforced in Oman, and records are well kept. There is no contemporary history of arbitrary seizures of land. With the exception of GCC nationals, who are allowed to own property subject to government approval, foreign persons/firms may lease – but not own – real estate. A new law allowing foreign nationals to own real estate in Oman was issued in March 2004. The government actively seeks to promote tourism, and a key component of the drive to attract investment is the ability to sell villas and estates in mixed tourist/residential developments slated for construction over the next 5-10 years.
Oman has a trademark law. Trademarks must be registered and noted in the Official Gazette through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Local law firms can assist companies with the registration of trademarks. In May 2000, Oman revised the trademark law to be in compliance with TRIPS.
Oman enacted a copyright protection law in 1996, and enforced by a ministerial decree in April 1998, which extended protection to foreign copyrighted literary, technical, or scientific works; works of the graphic and plastic arts; and sound and video recordings. In order to receive protection, a foreign-copyrighted work must be registered with the Omani government by depositing a copy of the work with the government and paying a fee. Since January 1999, the government has enforced copyright protection for audio and videocassettes, and destroyed stocks of pirated cassettes seized from vendors. The government did not extend protection to foreign-copyrighted software until late 1998, when it declared that retailers must halt the importation and sale of non-licensed software by July 1, 1999. Thereafter, the government stepped up efforts to curtail software piracy in Oman, including raids on businesses to ensure that no pirated software is used by Omani firms.
In mid-2000, the government introduced new, WTO-consistent intellectual property laws on copyrights, trademarks, industrial secrets, and integrated circuits. Further, in October 2000 Oman issued new, WTO-consistent intellectual property rights legislation to protect patents and other intellectual property rights.
Oman has joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and asked WIPO to register Oman as a signatory to the Paris and Berne conventions on intellectual property protection.