Egypt: New Intellectual Property Law In Egypt.

Last Updated: 3 September 2001
Article by Ragaii M. El Dekki

Draft Intellectual Property Law has been prepared in Egypt and most likely will come into force before the end of this year. Protection of Intellectual Property rights Law in Egypt consists mainly of four sections covers all aspects of Intellectual property. This new law has entered new subject matter which was never protected in Egypt and entered so many amendments of the existing I. P. Laws.

Section One covers Patents, Layout of Integrated Circuits and protection of undisclosed information.

Patent Of Inventions

Several changes as well as new features have been entered over the existing patent law includes:

1 - Patent of invention shall be granted to any new, industrially applicable invention having inventive step. This means that new subject matter shall be patentable including in particular pharmaceutical compounds, agricultural chemicals, micro-organisms, microbiological processes used to produce plants or animals.

2 – Novelty has been extended to be universal in other words, the invention shall not be considered new if it is published in Egypt or in any other country before one year proceeding the filing date in Egypt.

3 – Term of patent shall be 20 years from filing date for all patents.

4 – Official filing fees should not exceed L.E.1000.00 and annuity fees should not exceed L. E. 500. ( presently filing fees is L.E. 100.00).

5 – If the application is directed to biological material e.g. plants or animals, the applicant should submit a document proving that these materials have been legally produced in the country of origin.

6 – If the application is directed to microorganism, a culture of this organism should be deposited with the Egyptian competent authorities.

7 – The applicant should submit full details of previous foreign applications as well as examination reports.

8 – The applicant is entitles to use his invention as from the filing date.

9 – Examination of the invention shall be substantive examination not formal examination.

10 – Publication of accepted applications shall not be made except after one year from the filing date whereas the application shall be kept secret during this year.

11 – The patent Office may grant a compulsory license in the following cases over the other cases stipulated in the current law:

    1. Non commercial general utility purposes.
    2. To face emergency or force major circumstances
    3. Supporting of national efforts in the economically, socially and technically important sectors without prejudice to the reasonable rights of the patentee and Taking into consideration the legal interests of others
    4. Upon the request of the Minister of Health in case of any shortage of patented drugs to satisfy the country’s needs, or low quality thereof or unreasonably high prices thereof.

12 – Inventions may be expropriated for reasons relating to national defense and other necessary cases which permit granting of a compulsory license. The patentee shall be entitled to a fair compensation, which will be estimated by special Committee.

13 – New term of patents shall be applied to all valid patents.

14 – The patent office shall receive all applications relating to new subject matters (e.g. pharmaceutical inventions) which shall be kept unexamined until the elapse of the transition period on 1st January 2005. (Mail Box or Black Box filing)

15 – The applicant of a mailbox filing is entitled to apply for Exclusive Marketing Rights upon submitting:

    1. Corresponding patent in the country of origin ( member of WTO ) based on application filed after 1st January 1995
    2. Copy of the marketing approval in the country of origin.
    3. Copy of the marketing approval in Egypt.

The applicant shall enjoy the EMR for five years or until his patent application is decided.

New Features:

I. Utility Models Patents:

1 - Utility patent shall be granted to any new artistic addition in the form, composition, means, utensils, tools or their components or products or preparations or methods of producing thereof and other objects used in the current art

2 – Applicant of Patent of invention is entitled to convert his application to Utility patent and vise versa

3 – Term of Utility Patent is seven non-renewable years from the filing date.

4 – Annuities are payable against Utility Patents from the second year.

II. Layout Design Of Integrated Circuits:

1 - Integrated circuit means a product, in its final form or an intermediate form, includes elements, at least one of which is an active element, and some or all of the interconnections are integrally formed in a piece of material which is intended to perform an electronic function. Layout-design means the three-dimensional disposition prepared for an integrated circuit intended for manufacture.

2 – Term of protection of layout design of integrated circuit is 10 years from filing date or from the date of first use in Egypt or any other country.

3 – Application is filed with the patent Office and should include photo or drawings of the design, sample thereof and all information explaining the electronic function of the circuit.

4 – Application shall not be accepted if it is filed after two years from the first use in Egypt or any other country.

III. Undisclosed Information

1 - Undisclosed information according to the new law is

    1. Secret information, .in the sense that it is not, generally known among persons skilled in the art who are normally dealing with this kind of information.
    2. Information which has commercial value because it is secrecy.
    3. information that has been subject to effective steps , by the person lawfully in control of it, to keep it secret

2 – All competent authorities receive such information shall be obliged to keep it secret until it is disclosed.

3 – The rights of the legal entity who has control over the undisclosed information is restricted to prohibiting others from using such information provided that he take a sufficiently reasonable measures to preserve it.

4 - The following acts are considered as an acts of unfair competition and contradict to the fair trade :

    1. offering a bribe to persons working with the authority acquiring the information in order to illegally obtain the said information.
    2. Releasing information by workers if this information has come to their knowledge due to their employment.
    3. If one contractor of "Secrecy agreement " released the information he has.
    4. Obtaining the information from the archiving system by any illegal mean such as stealing etc.
    5. Obtaining information by any spying means.
    6. Obtaining information by any fraud means.
    7. Use of information by persons received this information by any act of the above acts knowingly that this is undisclosed information.

5 - The following acts shall not be considered as an acts contradict to the fair trade, namely :

    1. Obtaining information from general available sources such as library including , the library of the patent office, the public governmental records, researches and studies and published reports.
    2. Obtaining information by personal and independent efforts devoted for extracting of information through checking, testing, analysis of goods handled in the market and embody the undisclosed information.
    3. Obtaining information as a result of scientific research, innovations, inventions, development, amendment, improvement exerted by persons independently from the owner of undisclosed information.
    4. acquiring and using of known available information normally handled between skilled in the art.

Section Two covers Trade Marks, Trade Descriptions, Geographical Indications , Designs & Industrial Models.

I. Trade Marks & Trade Descriptions:

Basically, trade mark Law is still the same as the current Law except fir the following amendments:

1 – Only visible marks are registerable according to the new law in other words any sound, smell marks etc., shall not be registerable according to the new Trade Mark Act.

2 – Any interested party may at any time request cancellation of any trade mark if such trademark has been improperly registered in bad faith .

3 – Well – known marks shall enjoy protection stipulated in the trade mark law even without registration of such marks in Egypt.

4 - The Trade mark office may, ex officio, reject the registration of a trademark which is identical with a mark considered to be well known and used for identical or similar goods.

5 – Opposition should be filed within 60 days from the date of publication rather than three months. Counter-statement should be filed within 30 days from the date of notification rather than three months.

6 – Assignment of Trade Mark should be made with or without the business in respect of which the mark is used.

7 – Any interested party may request cancellation of trade mark if it has not been used for three consecutive years.

II. Geographical Indications

1 - Geographical indications are indications which identify a good as originating in a territory or a region of WTO member state or country according Egypt similar treatment, where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristics of the goods is essentially attributed to its geographical origin.

2 - Shall not be allowed the use of any means in the designation or presentation of a good that indicates or suggests that the good in question originates in a geographical area other than the true place of origin.

3 - The manufacturer of a good in places of special reputation in producing such good shall not put a geographical indication on similar goods produced in another locality in a manner that precludes and suggest that it has been produced in the said place.

4 - In order to register a trademark containing a geographical indication, the applicant should continuously produce the good in the reputed geographical territory.

5 - A trademark containing a geographical indication may not be registered if use of same may mislead the public as to the geographical origin of the good.

6 - A trademark containing a geographical indication may be registered if the right thereon has been acquired in good faith before enacting of this law or before granting protection of such geographical indication in the country of origin.

7 - Any interested party may ask the court of first instance in the usual manner to prohibit use of any geographical indication not included in a registered trade mark if such use may mislead the public as to the geographical origin of the good.

III. Designs & Industrial Models:

1 - Industrial design or model shall be any and every new arrangement of lines or every form in relief, with or without colors, and can be industrially applicable.

2 - Design or Industrial model shall not be considered as new in the following cases :

    1. If it has been publicly disclosed, described or exposed before the date of filing an application for registration. Nevertheless, design or industrial model shall be considered as new if such disclosure or description is made after filing an application for registration of same in WTO member country or in a country accord Egypt similar treatment or exposed in any national or international Exhibition, or published the drawings or industrial model in a conference or scientific periodical , all these within a period not exceeding six months before filing an application for registration of same in Egypt.
    2. If there is difference between same and prior design or industrial model or used in respect of products different than those in respect of which the prior design or industrial model is registered.

3 - The administration of Trademarks may impose any restrictions or modifications which they deem fit to apply article ( 124 ) as stipulated in the Executive regulations. If the applicant fails to comply with the conditions imposed, he shall be deemed to have renounced his application. Within thirty days as from the date of notification of the official decision, the applicant may appeal against that decision in front of the committee referred to in article ( 124 ), in the terms & conditions laid down in the Executive regulations.

4 - Period of protection of Design or Industrial Model is ten years starting from the filing

Section three dealing with copyright Law which remained unchanged except for the period of protection which has been extended to be lifetime of the Auther and seventy years thereafter.

Section four dealing with Plant Varieties and protection of new plants made by biological or non-biological method. Provided that it has at least one new apparent feature.. Period of protection of such varieties is twenty years for crops and 25 years for grapes and trees.

All above amendments are subject to further slight amendments, which may be entered by the Parliament before ratification.

'The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.'

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