391 patent applications of individuals and companies submitted during 2017
M. Rasha Hamdi:
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is trying to improve its procedures of patenting.
The Intellectual Property Department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has said that the number applications for patenting of inventions and ideas by individuals and companies has increased to 391 in 2017 from 369 of 2016. These patent were related to chemical formula, pharmacy, technology of electronics and communications and oil and gas extraction techniques. The ministry wants that the number of applications for patenting should increase, particularly from Omani inventors. This is why the Intellectual Property Department of the ministry has formulated a plan to increase awareness about the importance of protecting inventions and ideas which have creative properties.
Competitive business environment
Engineer Rasha Hamdi Abdul Hameed, a patent expert in the Intellectual Property Department, said: "The Ministry of Commerce and Industry wants to create a competitive business environment for the private sector, as an effective contribution to the development of the national economy. This is why the department would be organising lectures and workshops to highlight the role of the ministry in the area of protection of inventions and ideas and their patenting. This would encourage researchers and those who work in scientific and research institutions and others to present and implement their ideas and work on creative projects as well as transfer their technologies from scientific and research institutions to the industrial sector.
She added: The objective of the patenting is to protect the inventor from others infringements into his invention without permission. The patent certificate is actually an official document issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. She said that it is important that the inventions would be worthy to get the patenting only if it is new and able to be industrially implemented. Patents play a crucial role in recognising the creativity of individuals. It ensures them financial rewards for marketing of their inventions. It also encourages the culture of inventions and innovations to improve the quality of human life.
Registration of the invention first and then its publication
Engineer Rasha Hamdi pointed out that most inventors have no knowledge that their subject should not be published before their registration in department of intellectual property. If they are made public before they are registered, they lose the condition of newness. Therefore, we suggest that the inventors should register their invention first and only after than they should publish. The inventions for which application for patenting has been filed need to pass several stages of tests and enquiry from the date of filing of application to the issuance of the patent certificate, in accordance with the law of protection of property rights as per the Royal Decree number 67 of the year 2008. The first stage is the filing of the application: The inventor fills the application form, them submits it with a fee. Then the applicant gets the receipt which has application number and the date of submission.
The second stage is the formal examination after four months of the filing of the application. The formal examination of the application is required to ensure that there are no legal or technical deficiencies in the document. After that the applicant is informed about the outcome of the inspection. After 18 months from the date of submission of the application and enquiry about various database to ensure that all conditions required for patenting is fulfilled, the inspector issues the report of objective investigation of the submission. In the fourth stage, in case of acceptance of the application, the patent certificate is given and it is published in the official gazette. But the innovator has to wait for 120 days so that anybody can challenge it under the article 5-c of the law.
Rasha Hamdi confirmed that the patent certificate issued for any invention protects it locally inside the Sultanate only, as there is so far nothing like international patent.
Rights of owner of the patent
The patent expert in the Intellectual Property Department said that the owner of the patent has the right to manufacture, sell, import, export and store the product of his invention. He also has right to determine who may or may not benefit from the invention covered by the patent during the period of protection of the invention. The patent owner may also authorise the third party to use the invention in accordance with agreed terms. The owner of the patent may also sell the rights of the invention to another person who becomes the new owner of the patent. When the patent expires, the protection expires and the invention is transferred to the public domain. This means that the patent owner no longer enjoys the exclusive rights of the invention and it becomes available to others for use in trade and industry.
Rasha Hamdi said that in economic terms, patent strengthens the position of the patent holder in the market and protect him against competition and counterfeiting. It also guarantees return on investments and use of licenses.
Improvement of performance
The Intellectual Property Department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is working to improve the procedure of patenting for inventors and to encourage creativity and scientific and technical development. In the process, in early 2017 the department looked into the applications submitted since 2014. For the purpose, it set up a directorate of investigation which has two technical investigators with specialisation in various technological specialities. It is also trying to create awareness about patenting and its process, by a series of lectures to encourage innovators to register their inventions and protect their rights.