In an exciting development, the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP) has launched a new free search tool, which enables users to search for trademarks, patents and/or industrial designs registered in Saudi Arabia.

This is an important development to enhance the services provided by SAIP for rights owners and start-ups. The new tool can be used to carry out an initial check of existing IP rights and assist with initial checks for IP rights clearance, or for developing new products/services, subject to the limitations mentioned below. It is a move welcomed by IP professionals in the region, as the SAIP is the first IP office in the GCC to offer this public search tool free of charge.

The tool appears to be a user-friendly and straightforward, providing options with different criteria for searching for trademarks, patents and industrial designs. SAIP has also made the search tool available in Arabic, English, French and Japanese to accommodate non-Arabic speakers. The IP search software is provided by WIPO through its program of technical assistance to national and regional Industrial Property Offices.

SAIP is still working on various enhancements to the tool, which it describes on its website as an “experimental” version. Here, it states that the “current version of IP search is a beta version that allows users to only search for registered trademarks at SAIP from 1435 H onwards”. As a result, there are some limitations, namely, the database includes registered rights only (no pending applications) and only those rights registered from late 2013 onwards. Therefore, the tool is designed for obtaining data on existing registered/protected rights, or for brand clearance, looking for obvious obstacles, as opposed to clearing a new IP right for use or registration, given that rights registered before late 2013, or rights not yet granted, are not included in the database.

To clear a new IP right for use in Saudi Arabia, the recommendation at this stage is to continue using the “paid” official searches in order to get a complete view of all the pending and registered rights. However, even as a beta version, this is beneficial as a supplemental tool to the official searches and enables users to apply alternative search criteria to ensure more comprehensive searches. It also allows users an option to gauge what has been registered/protected in Saudi Arabia previously, to help evaluate the likely official view on certain topics or types of IP rights.

We consider this to be a very positive development by SAIP and further evidence of the increased focus in Saudi Arabia on IP rights, as well as recognition of the importance of IP rights for future economies.