The Saudi justice minister Walid Al-Samaani has announced that, from February, patent and copyright cases will be heard by commercial courts and/or committees established within those courts. Previously, such cases were heard by two committees, constituted to examine and adjudicate on invention patents and copyright protection respectively. The change has been approved by Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Judicial Council, and the Saudi Ministry of Justice has already begun training judges on how to handle Intellectual Property disputes in the commercial courts.

In a statement, Al-Samaani said: “We want to provide the best judicial principles and training on intellectual property system based on research and study. We are collecting the previous work done by related committees that looked into those cases to prepare for the shift”.

It is understood that one of the key aims of the change is to transition existing processes into, as the Ministry of Justice calls it, “a fully digital environment”. However, claims that are, or were, filed before February will continue to be heard by the existing committees.

These reforms follow an increasing engagement by Saudi Arabia with the importance of protecting intellectual property, which has seen a series of IP awareness events across the Kingdom in recent months. These have included numerous public events and campaigns promoted under the hashtag #I_respect_intellectual_property_rights.

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