In April 2020, Qatar issued Qatar Law No. 10/2020 for the Protection of Industrial Designs. This new law repealed and replaced the former Industrial Design Law, Qatar Law No. 9/2002. Although the former Design Law was issued in 2002, no Implementing Regulations were ever issued and, as a result, it has never been possible to register designs in Qatar.

Applicants have traditionally relied on publishing cautionary notices in local newspapers to declare foreign registered rights to deter potential infringers. This may cause issues for applicants as the public disclosure of an unregistered design can stop an applicant from being able register in Qatar. To be eligible for design registration in Qatar, designs must meet the absolute novelty requirement, that is, not be publicly disclosed anywhere in the world at the time of filing. Exceptions to this rule are made under Article 6 of the Law which allows for public disclosures at national or international exhibitions provided these occur within six months of filing an application to register the design.

Although the Law makes no specific mention of the applicant’s right to priority under the Paris Convention, it is likely applicants will be able to claim priority to foreign design applications filed within the prescribed period of six months.

The new Design Law outlines the requirements for design registration, excluded subject matter, licensing and infringement of registered designs. Like the former law, design protection is valid for five years from the filing date and can be renewed for two additional five-year periods subject to renewal fees. The maximum protection period for registered designs in Qatar is 15 years.

Once the new Law and Regulations take effect, applicants will be able to file design applications at the Office of Protection of Industrial Property at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry or ‘the Office’. Under the law, a decision of acceptance or rejection should be issued within 30 days of the filing date. Applicants may appeal the decision within 30 days of receiving the notification of the decision. If the design registration is accepted, it will proceed to publication. Third parties will then have 60 days from publication of an accepted design to file an opposition.

A Decree is expected to issue the Implementing Regulations which will provide more guidance on the procedures and specific details on the requirements and fees for filing design applications. The key question remains when the new Law will come into force and the Implementing Regulations issue.

Written by David Harper, Partner & Head of Patents and Tamara El-Shibib, Patent & Technology Transfer Consultant.