Saudi Arabia - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property

Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.

Last published date: 2022-07-06

U.S. companies should have a comprehensive strategy for managing their intellectual property (IP) in Saudi Arabia and mitigating the risk of IP infringement.  The Saudi Arabian Government does not guarantee the same IP rights or scope of protection companies expect in the United States and other Western markets.  Most rights must be registered in country, under local laws, in order to be enforced.  For example, a U.S. trademark registration or U.S. patent will not protect you in Saudi Arabia. 

Most recently, Saudi Arabia adopted the unified Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Trademark Law (effective in September 2016) and is also a member of the GCC Patent Law and GCC Customs Law, which helps to harmonize IP practices in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.  Patent registration is granted on a first-to-file basis in Saudi Arabia.  Similarly, registering trademarks is based on first-to-file.  Therefore, you should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing your products or services to the market.  

It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right, and that the U.S. government cannot claim rights on behalf of private individuals in Saudi Arabia.  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 the Saudi Arabia Intellectual Property laws.  U.S. firms should work through their local law firm and/or IP agent to protect their rights as thoroughly as possible. 

The U.S. Commercial Service, as well as the regional U.S. IP attaché office, located in the UAE, can provide a list of local lawyers upon request.  While the U.S. government stands ready to assist, there is little that can be done if the rights holders have not taken the fundamental steps necessary to secure and enforce their IP in a prudent and timely manner.  Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights in 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 considered as a substitute for the responsibility of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case. 

It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners.  A competent and reputable partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights and even then, your IP rights should be clearly covered with your partner.  Consider very carefully whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf.  Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end.  It is also recommended that small and medium-size companies understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting.  There are several organizations, both Saudi Arabia- and U.S.-based, that can be used as resources, including but not limited to:

  • The U.S. Chamber and local American Chambers of Commerce
  • National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
  • International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
  • International Trademark Association (INTA)
  • The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy
  • International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)

Unfortunately, some challenges do exist for U.S. companies wishing to protect and enforce their intellectual property rights.  Saudi Arabia had been on the Priority Watch List in the United States Trade Representative Special 301 Report since April 2019.  The annual Special 301 Report identifies countries where concerns exist about providing adequate and effective protection and enforcement of U.S. IP rights. 

In 2017, Saudi Arabia established the  “Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property” (SAIP) to consolidate all the different IP departments under one umbrella and  to lead an IP national strategy including the updating of rules and regulations, the provision of  IP products and services in a timely and high-quality manner, and the promotion of  IP awareness for all stakeholders –  including inventors, creators, entrepreneurs and consumers – and the coordination IP enforcement efforts with the other Ministries and Departments.

Saudi Arabia was removed from the Special 301 Report’s Priority Watch List in April 2022 due to steps the SAIP took to publish its IP enforcement procedures; increase enforcement against counterfeit and pirated goods and online pirated content; create specialized IP enforcement courts with trained judges and expedited timelines; conduct strong IP awareness, outreach, training, and support; set up a centralized committee to coordinate IP enforcement actions across multiple authorities; and train IP specialists in 76 different authorities to increase government compliance with IP laws. Stakeholders continue to raise concerns that the Saudi Arabia Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) granted marketing approval to domestic companies for subsequent versions of registered products, without requiring the submission of data that meets the same requirements applied to the initial applicant, despite the period of protection provided to the initial applicant by Saudi regulations. The SFDA has not granted these concerning marketing approvals since October 2020, and the United States will continue to closely monitor SFDA’s actions in this area.

IP Resources

  • For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues – including enforcement issues in the U.S. and other countries –  call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or visit   
  • For information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. and in foreign countries), contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199, or visit
  • 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
  • For more information about how to evaluate, protect, enforce intellectual property rights, and how these rights may be important for businesses, please visit the “Resources” section of the STOPfakes website at
  • For information on obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights and market-specific IP Toolkits visit: .  The toolkits contain detailed information on protecting and enforcing IP in specific markets and contain contact information for local IPR offices abroad and U.S. government officials available to assist SMEs.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has positioned IP attachés in key markets around the world.  Check the IP Attaché Program | USPTO to find your Attaché for Saudi Arabia and their contact details.