In the first major development since last year’s announcement of a new Saudi Intellectual Property Authority, the Council of Ministers appointed three private sector experts last week to the Authority’s Board of Directors: Dr. Fahad Abuhimed, Managing Partner at AS&H Law Firm; Dr. Ali A. Al-Meshari, CEO of Saudi Aramco Upstream Technology Company and manager of Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center; and Dr. Fahad Al-Sherehy, General Manager of SABIC’s Global Technology and Innovation Centers.
What is the Saudi IP Authority?
The forthcoming Saudi IP Authority is a public body whose sole mission will be to regulate, promote and protect IP rights in the Kingdom. Historically, a disparate group of government ministries and institutions with a broad set of missions beyond IP have shared such responsibility. For instance, trademarks are currently regulated by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, copyrights by the Ministry of Culture and Information, and patents by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.
The Authority will be governed by a Board of Directors whose members will be drawn from various government ministries and agencies. Two Board seats were originally reserved for private sector experts. But in this week’s Council of Ministers announcement, that number was increased to three.
Why does this matter?
Unification of authority over IP into a single government body will ideally advance the public sector’s IP expertise and lead to greater consistency in the regulation and enforcement of IP in the Kingdom. Trust and confidence in the Kingdom’s IP regime will also help promote entrepreneurship and foreign investment in knowledge-based industries, a key component of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
The Saudi IP Authority’s inclusion of three private sector experts on the Board of Directors—one from a leading law firm and two from arguably the Kingdom’s most successful innovators (Aramco and SABIC)—also signals an intent to give rights holders a real voice in the direction of the country’s IP policy.
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