New Intellectual Property right legislation in Kuwait - IMC
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New Intellectual Property right legislation in Kuwait

Introduction

Since long, Kuwait has been facing the demands of Copy righters lobby to take effective steps to protect original ideas and thoughts and enforce stringent rules for pirates. In April, 2014 the United States Trade Representative (USTR) produced it annual report and listed out countries to be kept under extra watch list and Kuwait was one of those counties. In the later quarters of the same year Kuwait ratified Berne convention for protection of artistic and literary work and Paris convention for protection of Industrial property.

Kuwait always had a defined law for protection of intellectual properties since its independence from British rule in 1962. However, it is remained under constant criticism for not having adequate protection measures. Kuwait became a member of World Trade Organization (WTO) and by virtue of membership it agreed to adhere to the provisions laid down by the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Highlights of New Law

In May 2016, National Assembly of Kuwait has unanimously approved the draft law on copyright and related rights which was later adopted by the parliament. The law consists of 45 articles divided into three chapters.

Article One provides the definition of “written work” and “related rights”. The term written work is defined as every innovative literary, artistic or scientific work or a way of expression with significance or purpose. The related rights are defined as the rights inherent in the author’s copyright and anything similar in some respects (right of public performance by artists, the right of makers and producers of phonograms and / or the right of broadcasting institutions).

Article Two of the new law covers both natural as well as legal persons for protection of copyright and related rights. It specifically provides for covering all Kuwaitis, foreigners who are permanent residents in the State of Kuwait and foreigners from any of the States who is a member in the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works or in the World Trade Organization and others.

Article Four of the new law lists out the cases where protection is not applied.

Article Six guarantees that the author and his successor(s) will have perpetual, inalienable and imprescriptibly rights over all the books and material written by him. Rights granted under the law cannot be waived or confiscated.

Article Eight provides the authority to the National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature of Kuwait to exercise the moral for rights provided to authors in Article Six if the author dies without a will or appointing an heir, as well as the works of unknown authors.

Article 37 grants right to order non-customs clearance for goods to the customs authorities of state, if any of the rights protected under the law is violated. Article 38 directs the National Library of Kuwait to mandatorily establish a register for depositing the works, sound recordings, radio shows and performances, and provides that the executive regulations should determine and prescribe the procedures and rules in this regard.

Article 39 gives the right to the concerned persons to lodge a complaint against decisions on refusal to register and deposit works by the National Library or other authority, as may be authorized in this regard.

Article 40 gives the power to Public Prosecution to investigate act and prosecute in all crimes arising from the application of this law. They shall come within the jurisdiction of the Criminal Division of the High Court to look into criminal proceedings stipulated in this law and allows submission of an appeal regarding its ruling. It further states that it will be the sole authority for this purpose.

Punitive Provisions

Any infringement of the moral or financial copyright of the author granted under this law may land the violator into prison for a period that may vary between six months and two years, or a fine amounting to a minimum of KWD 500 but may go upto KWD 50,000 or both of them. This also provision will also be applicable to anyone who is found guilty of distributing equipment designed to circumvent the technical protection used by copyright owners, it will levy a fine that may be as much as KWD 100,000.

The Final Word

The authorities at the State of Kuwait understand the importance of protection of intellectual property rights and agreed that it is as important as protecting human rights. From the recent law, government has given clear indication that it will not tolerate any infringement of rights and the violators shall be punishable for heavy penalties including imprisonment.

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