In light of the recent decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, informally known as the Iran Deal, the United States is expected to begin reimposing certain sanctions on Iran. These sanctions, however, include a waiver that allows the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in Iran.
The provision, which may be found at Title 31 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, § 560.509, stipulates that certain transactions related to patents, trademarks, and copyrights are authorized. This means that, even with the US sanctions reimposed, the following transactions are permitted in Iran:
- the filing and prosecution of any application to obtain a patent, trademark, or other form of IP protection;
- the receipt of a patent, trademark, or other form of IP protection;
- the renewal or maintenance of a patent, trademark, or other form of IP protection;
- the filing and prosecution of oppositions or infringement proceedings with respect to a patent, trademark, or other form of IP right, or actions taken to defend such proceedings;
- the payment of fees due to the Iranian government; and
- the payment of fees and charges to attorneys.
With this in mind, rights holders who wish to ensure that they have suitable protection in place in Iran can take proactive steps, which include:
- reviewing and assessing their existing trademark portfolio in the country in order to ensure that their portfolio management strategies are aligned with the overall business strategy; and
- investigating the Iranian market in order to identify potential infringements of IP rights so that enforcement action can be taken.