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German Legal Expertise in the Middle East since 1981

New Patent Law in Yemen

Guiding Principle

New Patents, Utility Models, Integrated Circuits and Trade Secrets Law No. 2 of 2011 has recently been published in the country’s Official Gazette. The Law, which was issued on 12 January 2011 and published on 4 May 2011, entered into force on 12 April 2011.

A. The Main Features for the Law No. 2 of 2011

The main features of the new Patent Law include a reduction in the opposition period from 6 months to 90 days, an increase in the protection term for patents from 15 to 20 years and for utility models, 7 years as of filing date. The new Law prohibits the patenting of methods of human or animal diagnosis, treatment and surgery, organs, tissues, live cells, natural biologic substances, DNA, blood, hormones or genes and plants or animals and methods of producing plants or animals, except those involving micro-organisms. The Law also provides for compulsory patent licenses if the patentee has not properly exploited its patent within a period of 4 years from the date of filing or 3 years from the date of grant without a legitimate reason.

B. The Main Important Points of the new Law

Points of particular significance with respect to Patents, Utility Models, Integrated Circuits and Trade Secrets in the new Law are highlighted below:

1.  Patents

  • An employer is entitled to be named as the patentee if:
    • (i)   An invention is made by employee(s) during the execution of an employment contract or a commitment for the execution of inventive efforts.
    • (ii)  The employee does not develop the subject matter of the protection had he not used facilities, means data that were made available through his employment. The employee has the right to receive remuneration, which is to be agreed upon with the consent of both parties, for the subject matter of the protection. A patent application filed by an employee within one year from the date of termination of employment will be considered as having been submitted during the course of employment.
  • The opposition period has been reduced from 6 months to 90 days from the date of publication of a patent application.
  • Absolute (worldwide) novelty is required for an invention to be patentable.
  • Patents are granted for a term of protection of 20 years from the filing date, rather than the 15 year term provided for under the previous law.
  • A patent must work, and if the patent is not being fully exploited by the patentee within 4 years from the filing date or 3 years from the date of grant, it will be subject to compulsory licensing under the provisions of the Law.

2.  Utility Models

  • Conversion from and to a patent application is possible.
  • The term of protection of a utility model is 7 years from the filing date.

3.  Integrated Circuits

  • Integrated circuits are defined as the design of the disposition of any interconnections and the elements for the making of an integrated circuit product, or the disposition of any elements and the interconnections for the making of a customization layer or layers to be added to an integrated circuit product in an intermediate form.
  • Integrated circuits are protected for up to 10 years. The term of protection commences on either the year of the first commercial exploitation or the year of the filing date, whichever is earlier.
  • For an integrated circuit to be registered, it has to be original.

4.  Trade Secrets

  • As long as the owner of the trade secret can prove that reasonable efforts have been made to keep the information confidential, the information remains a trade secret and remains legally protected.
  • Information could be considered a trade secret if:
    1. Its confidentiality has commercial value.
    2. It is not commonly known, easily accessible, or used by individuals that usually deal with such information.
    3. It has been identified by the party in control of the information as a secret.
July, 2011 Tareq Jeroudeah,
Meyer-Reumann & Partners – Dubai
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