In any foreign market companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.
Under the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, the Bahraini government committed to enforcing world-class intellectual property rights (IPR) protections. The Bahraini government has signed the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. The Bahraini government ratified revised legislation to implement Bahrain’s obligations under the WTO/TRIPS Agreement in 2006. The Bahraini government has joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty and was ranked as the 73rd most competitive country on the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Competitiveness Index. The Bahraini government has also passed laws designed to bring Bahrain’s local legislative framework into compliance with its Paris Convention commitments.
Intellectual property rights in Bahrain are protected under the following national laws:
- Trademarks Law No. 11 of 2006
- Patents and Utility Models Law No. 1 of 2004, as amended by Law 14 of 2006
- Industrial Design Law No. 6 of 2006
- Designs of Integrated Circuits Law No. 5 of 2006
- Copyright and Neighboring Rights Law No. 22 of 2006
- Trade Secrets Law No. 7 of 2003, as amended by Law No. 35 of 2005
The Bahraini government has made progress in reducing copyright piracy. The government’s copyright enforcement campaign began in late 1997 and was based on inspections, closures, and improved public awareness. The campaign targeted the video, audio, and software industries with impressive results. Most commercially pirated video and audio markets have been eliminated. However, audio, video, and software piracy by end-users remains a problem.
For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at www.wipo.int
Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property rights in Bahrain:
- First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect your IPR.
- Second, IPR may be protected differently in Bahrain than in the United States.
- Third, rights must be registered and enforced in Bahrain, under local laws.
Your U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect you in Bahrain. There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends, basically, on the national laws of that country. Companies should therefore consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing products or services to the Bahrain market. It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Bahrain. It is the responsibility of the rights holders to register, protect, and defend their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or intellectual property consultants who are experts in Bahraini law. The U.S. Commercial Service can provide a list of local lawyers upon request.
There are no specialized IPR courts in Bahrain. However, various administrative and judicial methods protect and enforce rights of intellectual property holders. Intellectual property rights holders may file a petition with the court to stop or prevent infringement. Infringers found guilty by the court are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment, and any counterfeit goods identified will be seized and destroyed.
While the U.S. government stands ready to assist, little can be done if the rights holders have not taken the fundamental steps necessary to secure and enforce their intellectual property in a timely fashion. Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights on a mistaken belief that the USG can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to legal doctrines such as statutes of limitations, laches, estoppel, or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a lawsuit. In no instance should U.S. government advice be seen as a substitute for the responsibility of a rights holder to pursue its case promptly.
It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IPR. Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IPR on your behalf. Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IPR owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end. Work with legal counsel familiar with Bahrain laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.
Small and medium-sized enterprises, which constitute the majority of businesses in Bahrain’s economy, should work together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IPR and prevent counterfeiting. Principal organizations, in both Bahrain and the United States, include:
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce (www.uschamber.com)
- American Chamber of Commerce in Bahrain (www.amchambahrain.org)
- National Association of Manufacturers (www.nam.org)
- International Intellectual Property Alliance (www.iipa.org)
- International Trademark Association (www.inta.org)
- The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (www.acacap.org)
- International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (www.iacc.org)
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (www.phrma.org)
- Biotechnology Industry Organization (www.bio.org)
For more information, contact Bahrain’s IP Attaché office:
U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi
P.O. Box 4009
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Additionally, U.S. companies are also encouraged to contact ITA’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights Director, Stevan Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.