On 05 January 2021, the Supreme Council of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) held its 41st internal meeting in Saudi Arabia. On 06 January 2021, an official announcement was posted on the GCC website that the GCC Patent Office has stopped accepting new patent applications as of 06 January 2021. This announcement was made surprisingly and unexpected. Unfortunately, further information is neither announced nor available to public for the details of amended GCC patent law.
Therefore, no unified GCC patent applications are possible from now on and separate filings will be required in the member states of the GCC. However, cases that have been filed before the 06 January 2021 (pending cases as well as their annuities) will remain in force before the GCC Patent Office and undergo prosecution as usual. Furthermore, filing of divisional applications will be allowed as the filing date of such applications is the same as the original application filing date.
For future cases, the following options are available to obtain patent protection in the GCC region:
>> Filing separate national Paris Convention applications within the 12 month priority period through the local Patent Offices of GCC member states, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
>> Entering separate PCT national phase applications in each of the above mentioned member states within the 30 month priority period.
It remains to be seen whether and when the GCC Patent Office will start accepting new patent applications in the future.