Intellectual Property Law of Kuwait
Intellectual Property is the name used to refer to different types of creations of the mind such as musical, literary and artistic works, inventions, symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce. There are several types of intellectual property rights bundles, such as Patents, trademarks, copyrights and related rights. Under intellectual property law, the creator or otherwise holder of one of these creations has certain exclusive rights to the creative work, commercial symbol or invention by which it is covered.
A patent is set of exclusive rights granted by a state to an inventor or his assignee for a fixed period of time in exchange for a disclosure of an invention.
Patents are governed by Law No.4 of 1962 as amended by Law No.3 0 2001. Once the patent owner is vested with the right to use his patent, he can use it continuously for 20 years from the date of application (Article 12). Also this law facilitates renewal for every four-year period.
Apart from the Kuwaiti Nationals, the following persons are entitled to apply for patents in Kuwait.
1. Foreigners residing in Kuwait or having industrial or commercial establishment therein, foreigners who are nationals of the countries which accord Kuwait reciprocal treatment or who are residents of or have true domicile in such countries,
2. Corporations, societies, firms or associations of industrialists, producers, merchants or workers established in Kuwait or in countries which accord Public services.
3. Kuwait reciprocal treatment, if they enjoy corporate status.
Article 46 of the Patent law provides that for acts amounting to infringement of a Patent the offending party shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or with fine 5000/- KD or both.
A trade mark is a type of intellectual property, and typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image or a combination of these elements.
Article 61 to 85 of the Commercial law of Kuwait 1981 deals with trademarks law and the definition of trademark under this law includes "pictorial elements, color combinations, any signs perceivable by sight, audio signs, and signs related to sense of smell". The list of marks that are not permissible to be registered in Kuwait, (Article 62) has been reduced considerably. It may also be noted that Kuwait has adopted the international classification of goods and services for registration of trademarks.
A trademark registration is valid for 10 years from the date of filing the application (Article 77). The trademark is renewable after every 10 years.
'Actual use' of the trademark in Kuwait is not a pre-requisite for registering a trademark in Kuwait , but non-use for 5 years or more consecutively or if there is no bonafide use of the mark, then the mark is liable to be struck-off (Article 79).
The owner of a registered trademark may commence legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trade mark. Such unauthorized uses are offences punishable with imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 600/-KD or both (Article92).
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by governments, giving the creator of an original work of authorship exclusive right to it, usually for a limited time, after which the work enters the public domain.
The law No 64 of 1999 governs copyrights and provides copyright protection and penalties for copyright infringement.
Protection of the copyright of the author of a foreign language work, as well as the copyright of the translator who translated that work to another foreign language get terminated with respect to the translation of the work into the Arabic language wherein the author or the translator has failed to exercise the said right within a period of 5 years from the date of the first publication of the original translated work (Article 16).
The term of copyright protection exists till the lapse of 50 years from the death of the author and in case of joint work, the term is calculated from the death of the last surviving co-author (Article 17).
The copyright law is applicable for both the nationals and the foreigners. The said law is applicable for the work of foreign authors
a) Who are published for the first time in Kuwait,
b) Who are nationals of a Member State of International Organization of Intellectual Property Rights Convention (WIPO) that are published for the first time in any of the said countries,
c) Who are nationals of the countries which accord reciprocity rights to the nationals of Kuwait (Article 43).
Part 3 of the Code deals with Procedures and Penalties. Any person who has committed copyright infringement is liable to be punished for either one year or a fine not exceeding KD 500 or both (Article 42). The Minister of information shall appoint officials as may be needed for implementing the provisions and the Public Prosecution authority shall investigate, take action and prosecute all the offences.
The Government is planning to submit a Bill before the parliament to amend some articles of Copyright Law in order to increase fine for copyright infringement from 500/- KD to 1000/- KD and double imprisonment from 1 year to 2 years.