Patents are protected in Bahrain under Law No. 1 of 2004 on Patents and Utility Models, which was subsequently amended by Law No. 14 of 2006 (Bahrain Patent Law). The law provides protection for patentable inventions and for utility models.
Patent and utility model applications are registered at the Bahrain Industrial Property Office, which sits within the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
As with most countries, an invention is capable of protection in Bahrain if it is novel, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable. Protection can also be obtained for industrial methods.
However, protection cannot be obtained for inventions which are considered to be contrary to morals or public order, scientific theories, mathematical methods, plants and animals, and methods of treatment. The law is silent on whether protection can be obtained for computer software.
There are three ways in which an invention can be protected in Bahrain:
- a national filing at the Bahrain Industrial Property Office, if appropriate claiming priority under the Paris Convention from an earlier application;
- a national phase entry following an international filing via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT);
- via the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Patent Office as a GCC Patent. The GCC Patent Law, which was approved in 1992, was implemented in Bahrain by way of Law No. 6 of 2014 meaning that patents granted by the GCC Patent Office are applicable in Bahrain.
A patent application in Bahrain must be filed in Arabic, with the translation being certified locally in Bahrain. There is no provision for late filing of the translation and it is therefore extremely important that sufficient time is allowed for translating the specification and claims into Arabic before the application is filed.
A simply signed Power of Attorney is also required at the time of filing and, again, it is important to allow sufficient time for an authorised signatory of the applicant to sign the Power of Attorney.
Within 90 days after the filing date, further supporting documents must be filed:
- the notarised and legalised copy of the Power of Attorney;
- a copy of the applicant’s Certificate of Incorporation or an extract from the commercial register, legalised up to the Bahraini Embassy;
- a notarised and legalised Deed of Assignment; and
- A certified copy of the priority document (if claimed), translated into English and Arabic.
On receipt of the original legalised documents, it is necessary to arrange local authentication in Bahrain, which can take a few days. It is therefore important to ensure that the documents arrive in Bahrain a week or so before the 90 day deadline, so that this process can be completed before the deadline expires.
Use it or lose it
The Bahrain Patent Law provides an applicant for a patent to exploit or use the invention in Bahrain within three years of the grant date, or within four years of filing, whichever is the later. If the patent has not been used within this time, it will be subject to compulsory licensing.
Applicants should keep this requirement in mind when considering whether to obtain protection in Bahrain.