There’s more to Qatar than Footie

Folk have not been very polite about Qatar since it was awarded the World Cup for 2022 yesterday. The reaction of one “Ian” on the “Have Your Say” page of the BBC website is typical:

“I can understand Russia getting the 2018 as they have never hosted the event before, but how on earth could they have picked Qatar for the 2022 is beyond belief.”

Ian might not be quite so surprised if he considered that Qatar hosted successfully the Asian Cup as long ago as 1988 and that that country is about to host the tournament a second time next month. Also, the Qataris seem to be quite good at football. They came within an ace of winning the FIFA World Youth Championship in 1981. Not bad for a population of just over a million.

An even worse display of ignorance has been the misspellings of the country’s name. The word “Quatar” (sic) was actually trending on twitter earlier this afternoon. And the Americans seem to be just as bad as us. Writing in the Washington Post under the headline “Where’s Quatar? The Qatar world cup and the death of spelling”, Alexandra Petri remarked:

“All I know about Qatar is that most Americans don’t know how to spell it or find it on a map.”

Now Qatar may be small and remote but it is not insignificant and before long it is likely to become a major player in science and technology. The Qatar National Vision for 2030 envisages “a knowledge-based economy characterized by innovation; entrepreneurship; excellence in education; a world-class infrastructural backbone; the efficient delivery of public services; and transparent and accountable government.” It has already gone a long way to achieving that goal. Six of the finest US universities which have established campuses on a site known as “Education City”. Many of the world’s leading companies including Cisco, EADS, Exxon, Microsoft and Rolls Royce which have established research facilities close by in the Qatar Science and Technology Park. The Park is intended to be “a home for technology-based companies from around the world and an incubator for start-ups enterprises” providing premises and services and support programmes to help organizations develop and commercialize their technologies. “Its objective” according to its website is to “attract companies and entrepreneurs from around the world, to develop and commercialize their technology in Qatar.” These “support programmes” are impressive: they include not simply proof of concept, new enterprise and equity funding, but also training in technology innovation and enterprise and mentoring.

An obvious question for foreign entrepreneurs and innovators is: “What is the legal protection for the intellectual assets generated by those companies and universities? ” There’s a lot of ignorance on this subject. For instance, according to Info-Prod Research based in Tel Aviv Qatar is not a member of the WIPO, it is not a party to the Paris Convention and it has no patent or design law. That goes to show that you should not believe everything you read on the internet. Qatar is a member of the World Trade Organization and hence bound by TRIPs. It also belongs to WIPO and is party not just to Paris but also to Berne, Nairobi and the WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties. It has a short but quite sophisticated Patents Law that appears to have been influenced by the European Patents Convention in various respects as well as trade marks and designs, trade secrets, copyright and semiconductor topography protection laws.

Although intellectual property falls within the general jurisdiction of the Qatari courts, the Qatar Financial Centre has its own Civil and Commercial Court under the presidency of Lord Woolf, the former Master of the Rolls. Other judges include Lord Cullen and Barbara Dohmann. Although less developed than the Dubai International Financial Centre’s Courts whose practice and terminology are based on the Civil Procedure Rules, it is clearly intend to follow England. For example, paragraph 16 of the Practice Guide No. 1 of 2009 provides:

“Until such time as the Court’s operational rule book is approved by the Council of Ministers and published, directions will be given on a case by case basis and in accordance with best international practice (as typified by the procedures set out in the London Admiralty & Commercial Court Guide, 7th edition, 2006, a copy of which can be found online or can be supplied by the Registrar on request).”

The reason I have penned thisDr. Alex Khan post is not to educate my compatriots or our American cousins, (notwithstanding their sour grapes and ignorance of geography and spelling) but to highlight the visit to the Gulf by my deputy Dr Alex Khan who is flying out today – weather permitting. As a set of chambers, we have always been interested in the Gulf and have established links with the business people and lawyers in the region. Like all members of the English Bar we have the right of audience in the Civil and Commercial Court of Qatar and the Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre. As intellectual property lawyers we have expertise in licensing and other non-contentious work. I have already given Alex a list of my contacts in the Gulf but if anybody would like to say hello to him while he is there you can contact him through this form, or leave a message for him with us on +44 161 850 0080 and we’ll pass it on.

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About Jane Lambert

I am a barrister specializing in intellectual property, technology, media and entertainment and competition law. I specialize in helping SME (small and medium enterprises) protect and exploit their investment in brands, design, technology and the arts. SME require intellectual property (legal protection for their intellectual assets) at least as much as big business but their limited means restrict the way they can use it. Looking after such clients wisely requires skills and knowledge which have taken me years to learn.
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2 Responses to There’s more to Qatar than Footie

  1. Pingback: Intellectual Property in Dubai | NIPC Law

  2. Pingback: Intellectual Property in Dubai | NIPC Law

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