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World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has proposed to celebrate the 26th April as World Intellectual Property day. Intellectual Property Right (IPR-finer manifestations of human intellectual achievement) includes “Literary artistic and scientific works; performances of performing artists, phonograms, and broadcasts; inventions in all fields of human endeavor; scientific discoveries; industrial designs; trademarks, service marks, and commercial names and designations; protection against unfair competition; and "all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields” (WIPO Convention, 1967; Article 2, § viii).

 

IPR in its many forms is a significant part of e-business and is considered an asset although it may not be tangible. Especially when Oman is considering the creation of knowledge based industries such as R&D or e-gaming software companies, it is their most valuable asset. Copyright, patents and trademarks are the three principal legal tools that can be used to protect intellectual property and in fact the strategy could be offensive or simply defensive.

 

 

With its accession into the World Trade Organisation’s TRIPS (Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement the following Royal Decrees in connection to IPR issues are enacted in Oman (Refer table). There have been fish processing technologies of Oman being patented successfully for commercial exploitation.

 

Further protection is required for protecting online content of Omani websites from linking (clicking on the hyperlink the user is taken from the initial website to a deeper page in the second website) and framing (linking to another website and using a portion of its content but then framing it with your own content).

 

Copyright protects a wide variety of material including text, images, sounds, computer software and any combination of these. The main provision is that the copyright material must be capable of storage in a material form (E.g. Audio may not be tangible but it can be 'stored' on a CD or tape). There is no registration process to create copyright, as it is a right that automatically attaches to the creator of the material from the time the material comes into existence in a tangible form. If the material was created in the course of employment, the copyright belongs to the employer not the employee who actually created the material. The recent raids by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture aided by the ROP to confiscate pirated CDs are legal measures to protect the citizens as stipulated by the articles of the Censorship Law on classified arts issued by Royal Decree No. 65/97.

 

Copyrights in Oman are protected under Royal Decree 37/2000. Protection continues for 50 years after the author’s death. Financial rights such as royalties are afforded under this law. The authors enjoy the right to have their work published in a pen name. Infringement of copyright is punishable by 2years imprisonment or 2000 RO fine. The law poses comparable international standards for limiting the quotation of works for illustration or educational purposes. Computer programs can be protected as a literary work and so includes the right to control the reproduction and the translation of the original program's code into another computer language. It would also include compiling and decompiling.

 

An alternate method of protecting intellectual property is to register a patent. In simple terms a patent protects the idea itself unlike copyright, which protects the expression of the idea. Some types of intellectual property such as software can be subject to both copyright and a patent. The Oman Royal Decree 82/2000 and the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council states’ Patent regulations control patents in Oman. An invention is patentable if it is new, contains a novel idea, and is worthy of industrial application. However it must not be inconsistent with public discipline or etiquette, undermine national security or be incompatible with the Islamic law. Employers are treated as the owners of a patent arising out of an employee’s work though the inventor in such cases is entitled to a fair remuneration. The Department of Agencies and Intellectual Property at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry processes and registers patents in Oman and it is valid for 20years. Breach of patent right is punishable under both civil and criminal offences.

 

A patent application was granted for the College of Agriculture and Marine Sciences at the Sultan Qaboos University, and it is the outcome of work within the Strategic Research Project: ‘Fish product development for export and the local market’ - a process to obtain minced fish products with improved eating quality.

 

The next issue will continue on the Intellectual Property Rights with trademarks and domain names.

 

ROYAL DECREE

COVERAGE

Royal Decree No. 37/2000

Law on Copyrights (Includes computer programs)

Royal Decree No. 38/2000

Law on trademarks, descriptions and secrets and protection from unfair competition

Royal Decree No. 39/2000

Law on protection of industrial designs

Royal Decree No. 40/2000

Law on protection of geographical indications

Royal Decree No. 41/2000

Law on protection of topographic rights on integrated circuits

Royal Decree No. 49/2000

Law on printed matters and publications

Royal Decree No. 82/2000

Patent Law

Royal Decree No. 92/2000

Law on protection of new plant varieties

 

Table - IPR related Oman Royal Decrees

 

 

Last Updated (Tuesday, 06 October 2009 10:31)

 
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