Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.
Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property (IP) rights in Oman. First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect IP. Second, it is essential to bear in mind that IP may be protected and enforced differently in Oman than in the United States. Third, companies should remember that most IP rights must be registered and enforced in Oman, under local laws. For example, U.S. trademark registrations and patents are not enforceable in Oman. There is no “international copyright” that automatically protects an author’s work across the world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country. However, Oman offers copyright protection to foreign works in accordance with international agreements.
Patent registrations are generally based on a first-to-file (or first-to-invent, depending on the country) basis. Similarly, registering trademarks is based on a first-to-file (or first-to-use) basis depending on the country. Companies should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing products or services to the Oman market. It is vital that companies understand that IP is primarily a private right and that the U.S. Government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Oman. It is the responsibility of the rights-holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Omani law. The Embassy’s Consular Section maintains a list of local attorneys, including those specializing in commercial law.
While the U.S. Government stands ready to assist, it can do little if rights-holders do not take these fundamental steps to secure and enforce their IP in a timely fashion. Moreover, in many countries, rights-holders who delay enforcing their rights on a mistaken belief that the U.S. Government 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, estoppels, or unreasonable delays in prosecuting a lawsuit. In no instance should U.S. Government advice be seen as a substitute for the responsibility of rights-holders to promptly pursue their case.
Companies should conduct due diligence on potential partners and agents. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights. However, companies should also consider carefully whether to permit a partner to register IP rights on their behalf. Doing so may create a risk that the partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end.
Small and medium-sized companies should understand the importance of working with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting. Several such organizations operate in Oman and the United States, including:
- The U.S. Chamber and local American Chamber of Commerce affiliate (Oman American Business Center)
- National Association of Manufacturers
- International Intellectual Property Alliance
- International Trademark Association
- The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy
- International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
- Biotechnology Industry Organization
A wealth of information on protecting IP is freely available to U.S. rights holders. Some resources for companies regarding intellectual property include the following:
- For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues — including enforcement issues in the United States and other countries — call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or visit STOPfakes.gov.
- For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the United States as well as in foreign countries), contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199.
- For more information about registering for copyright protection in the United States, contact the U.S. Copyright Office at: 1-202-707-5959, or visit https://www.copyright.gov/
- For more information about how to evaluate, protect, and enforce intellectual property rights and how these rights may be important for businesses, please visit the “Resources” section of the STOPfakes website at https://www.stopfakes.gov/resources
- For information on obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights and market-specific IPR Toolkits visit: STOPfakes.gov. The toolkits contain detailed information on protecting and enforcing IP in specific markets and also contain contact information for local IPR offices abroad and U.S. Government officials available to assist SMEs.
In any foreign market companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, please link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.
Pete C. Mehravari
U.S. Intellectual Property Attaché for Middle East and North Africa
U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi, U.S. Department of Commerce
Tel: +965 2259 1455
For more information, contact International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Office of Standards and Intellectual Property Rights (OSIP) Director, Stevan Mitchell at Stevan.Mitchell@trade.gov.
To access Oman’s ICS, which includes information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.