The Ministry of Commerce and Industry responsible for the protection of trademarks in Saudi Arabia has recently made significant changes to the trademark application process, with effect from September 25 2013.
A dedicated online platform
The main novelty is the digitalization of the procedure for registering a mark. In effect, requests to register a trademark from now on can only be filed online via the portal provided on the Ministry website(1). But it is important to specify that local agents specialized in the protection of trademarks must ensure prior registration in order to provide access to this platform.
The process for filing an application
In order to apply to register a trademark, the applicant must provide his agent with a signed power of attorney by sending a scanned color copy to the dedicated platform. The same day, or by the following morning, the Trademark Office will either reject or approve the power of attorney.
However, the procedure is not fully digitalized, so that if power of attorney is approved, the original version must still be sent to the Office. There again, the anticipated processing time is short: that same day or shortly afterwards the power of attorney will be added to the online account of the local agent who will therefore be able to initiate a trademark application request on behalf of his client. Power of attorney registered in this way will be valid for all future applications.
As for the choice of classes, these are limited to the categories listed in the 10th edition of the Nice classification published in 2012. The only inconvenient aspect of this new procedure is that in the event of a priority claim, the priority document must be produced at the time of the claim in a scanned version as well as sending the original hard copy to the Trademark Office.
Updates on the application use modern communication channels.
In a desire to reflect modern trends, information about the progress of the dossier is sent to the local agent by SMS or by e-mail.
The digital process is limited to new applications.
It is important to note that this procedure only applies to new applications for the time being, whilst extensions, changes to the name of the mark holder and other related amendments are not yet available online.
All these changes reflect the desire for modernization in recent years that Saudi Arabia has expressed in terms of trademark protection. We warmly welcome their approach.