On 16 March 2017, Qatar’s cabinet approved a new industrial designs law and implementing regulations that is set to repeal the former industrial designs law ‘Law No. 9 of Trademarks, Commercial Indications, Trade Names, Geographical Indications, and Industrial Designs & Models’. Under the former law, design rights were protected for a term of five years, with the possibility of renewal for two further terms. It’s not clear what the position will be under the new industrial designs law. The draft law and regulations have not yet been published.
Although the former industrial designs law was issued in June 2002, implementing regulations were never issued and as a result the law never came into force. The only available means for protecting designs in Qatar to date has been publishing cautionary notices in Arabic and English in local newspapers. A cautionary notice is essentially a public notification of a claim to a design that alerts the public against any possible infringement. It is not a statutory right enforceable in the courts and until the new industrial designs law and regulations take effect, applicants cannot legally protect their design rights in Qatar.
In recent years, Qatar has taken significant steps to strengthen its intellectual property infrastructure as part of the country’s plans to grow a knowledge based economy. In 2011, Qatar acceded to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) allowing international applicants to file patent applications directly in Qatar. Additionally, the Qatar Patent Office (QPO) is currently the only patent office in the GCC which receives international applications as a PCT ‘Receiving Office’. With the FIFA World Cup set to take place in five years, we expect to see more developments in this area as Qatar takes on its host nation responsibilities.