General patent updates from around MEA

Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa

Nigeria: Reforms in the ministry of industry, trade and investment

Amendments to Nigeria’s intellectual property legal framework continues to support the nation’s business environment, particularly via a reform of the administrative process within the Commercial Law Department of the Ministry.  Separate registries for Patents/Designs and Trade Marks have been established. These changes are a key part to Nigeria’s Industrial Revolution Plan, which has primary aims of increasing the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the national GDP, alongside a plan to fix infrastructure-related deficits.  Significance is placed on the role IP holds in reaching these overarching economic goals.

Russia: Unified register of patents for drugs

The Russian patent office (Rospatent) is planning to elaborate and run a Unified register of the drugs, for which there are patents in Russia. The register is supposed to be commonly available. It will allow to reveal pending patents for drugs, in particular generics, to be registered in the Ministry of Health (Minzdrav), and, therefore, prevent infringement of those patents. It is also suggested that some amendments be introduced to the pending law “On drugs”, which would provide for registration of generics with delayed market entry. A generic registered in such a way will be allowed to the marked as soon as the patent for the parent drug expires.

Saudi Arabia: Patent Prosecution Highway agreement between SAIP and KIPO

The Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP) and Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) have recently signed a Patent Prosecution Highway agreement.  The accelerated examination procedure should increase patent applications both countries. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues to stress the need to diversify the economy away from a dependence upon energy, and the role IP plays in this.

South Africa: CIPC proposed increase in official fees for patent applications and annuities

The South African Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (‘CIPC’) recently announced a proposed increase in the official fees for patent applications and annuities. Going forward, official fees will depend on the size of the business. Details of the different fees applicable for different company sizes are in the attached CIPC notice 24 of 2019. Basically, official fees will be less for companies which fall into the category of small, medium or micro enterprises (SMMEs). The new fee rates will be implemented within the next few months but no exact date for implementation has been announced yet. Watch this space.

In the meantime, do note that in South Africa it is possible to bulk-pay renewal fees for the entire life of the patent, when the first renewal is due. We are recommending to clients to consider this option now before the new rates are implemented, especially for ‘young’ patents, so as not to get hit with the new official fees for annuities for the coming years.