There are three ways to acquire patent protection in Oman. You can either go to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) and file a patent application there, or you can go to Saudi and apply for a GCC level patent, or you can use the international system for patent registration provided by the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). A few times every year, MOCI publishes in the Official Gazette the patent applications that it receives domestically or through the PCT. I took a look at these patent announcements that MOCI published in 2016 to see how many patents are filed and granted in Oman and to see how their inventors are.
There are two stages for acquiring a patent. First, the inventor must file a patent application, if the application looks acceptable, MOCI will publish the summary of the application in the Official Gazette. At this point, some inventors will claim that the patent is pending for their invention. Secondly, MOCI is supposed to review the application afterwards and if it is satisfied with the invention, it grants the patent. At this point, the patent is actually given and the inventor can stop others from manufacturing or using the invention.
In 2016, I do not believe that any applications were made to acquire patent protection in Oman nationally without any reference to the international PCT system. 33 applications were accepted for consideration by MOCI, but all were made in reference to a prior international application.
The patent application requires providing the details of the patent owner and the inventor. The owner is usually the company that hires the inventor, while the inventor is the individual or group of individuals who came up with the invention. In certain cases, the right to the patent might be owned by someone other than the owner or the inventor, this could be a holding company or someone who licenses the invention. In all the applications that were accepted for consideration by MOCI, there were no Omani patent owners, inventors, or rights holders. In fact, there does not appear to be any Gulfies or Arabs in any of these inventions. This could be because Gulfies and Arabs might choose to use the GCC patent office in Saudi which grants protection in the whole of the GCC and does not require dealing with MOCI at all.
The patents accepted for consideration appear to be mostly related to the petrochemical industry with multiple applications made by Schlumberger and Stamicarbon. There are applications by other companies whose names I don’t recognise and a couple from Shell and Siemens.
In addition to the 33 applications that were accepted for consideration, MOCI accepted to grant 20 patents. Some of these patents were granted for some of the 33 applications that were accepted for consideration in the same year, while others were for applications accepted for consideration from previous years.
Again, none of the inventors of these 20 granted patents is Omani. The actual individual inventors whose inventions were granted patent protection this year are from France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Norway, Italy, Japan, and Great Britain.
It is interesting to note the difference between copyright registrations and patent applications. For copyright, the majority of the registrations are made by Omanis, but there are no accepted patent applications made by Omanis at all. The biggest barrier that could face Omanis wishing to apply for a patent is the cost. Registering a copyright work costs 10 rials, while submitting a patent application starts from 200 rials for applications made by individuals in addition to annual renewal fees that start from 100 rials a year and increase annually to a maximum of 2000 rials for companies. Successful registration of a patent also requires evidence that the invention is actually novel and inventive, while registering a copyright work does not require any evidence of originality.
There are other forms of intellectual property rights that are available in Oman and it is interesting to see which ones are being used more than others and why, especially because these rights were not created by Oman as a result of local needs, but because of the international obligations that Oman has accepted in hope of attracting foreign investment.