Protection of Property Rights

The Saudi legal system protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of all property rights, including intellectual property.  The Saudi Government has acceded to the Universal Copyright Convention; implementation began in 1994.  The Saudi Copyright Law was amended in June 2003 to improve protection and to provide for serious deterrent penalties for violators.  The government also endorsed the country's joining the "Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property" and the "Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works".

The Saudi Government has taken actions to enforce copyrights of foreign firms, and pirated material has been seized or forced off the shelves of a number of stores.

Saudi Arabia has had a Patent Law since 1989 and the Patent Office accepts applications, but the number of patents issued remains limited.  Protection is available for product and product-by-process.  Product-by-process protection is extended to pharmaceuticals.  There are provisions in the Patent Law for compulsory licenses for non-working and dependent patents.  The term of protection is 15 years.  The patent holder may apply for a five-year extension. 

Trademarks are protected under the Trademark Law, which was updated in 2002.  Trade secrets are not specifically protected under any area of Saudi law; however, they are often protected by contract.

Foreign firms that wish to sell products in Saudi Arabia should work through their local representative to register their trademarks with the Ministry of Commerce, copyrighted products with the Ministry of Information, and patents with KACST or the GCC Patent Office.