Database

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SAUDI ARABIA

Reported in 2021

Pillar Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)  |  Sub-pillar Enforcement of copyright online
Lack of adequate enforcement of copyright online
Saudi Arabia has reportedly high levels of online piracy, particularly through illicit streaming devices, which are reported to be widely available and generally unregulated in Saudi Arabia. In December 2020, 32.6 percent of the 510,000 worldwide users of livehd7, a popular streaming website that violates IP laws, were from Saudi Arabia. It was also reported that the Saudi Arabia government continues to use unlicensed and “under-licensed” (in which an insufficient number of licenses is procured for the total number of users) software on government computer systems in violation of their copyrights.
Coverage Online contents, software

SAUDI ARABIA

N/A

Pillar Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)  |  Sub-pillar Signature of the WIPO Copyright Treaty
Lack of signature of the WIPO Copyright Treaty
Saudi Arabia has not signed the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since December 1989

Pillar Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)  |  Sub-pillar Copyright law with clear exceptions
Royal Decree No. M/11 on Copyright Law
Saudi Arabia has a copyright regime under the Royal Decree No. M/11 on Copyright Law. However, the exceptions do not follow the fair use or fair dealing model, therefore limiting the lawful use of copyrighted work by others. Art. 15 lists the exceptions, which include copying the work for personal use; quoting passages from the work in another work; using the work by way of clarification for educational purposes; among others.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since August 2013

Pillar Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)  |  Sub-pillar Participation in the Patent Cooperation Treaty
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Saudi Arabia is a party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since January 1989

Pillar Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)  |  Sub-pillar Practical or legal restrictions related to the application process for patents
Royal Decree No. M/38 of 10/6/1409 on Patent Law
Art. 14 of the Patent Law requires foreign applicants to appoint a representative or a registered Saudi patent attorney for the patent process in Saudi Arabia. In addition, it was reported that the Saudi patent office, dispute committee, and courts only accept Arabic documents or their Arabic translation by a certified translator. This includes priority documents, power of attorney, and translation of certificates in other jurisdictions used as evidence.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since July 2004

Pillar Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)  |  Sub-pillar Practical or legal restrictions related to the enforcement of patents
Complaints about enforcement of patents
While Saudi Arabia maintains robust patent enforcement laws, clear sanctions and multiple remedial actions, it is reported that enforcement is hampered by the lack of clear legal definitions - especially regarding online protections.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since May 2014

Pillar Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in sectors relevant to digital trade  |  Sub-pillar Screening of investment and acquisitions
Board of Directors of the General Investment Authority Decision no. (2/74), dated 12/5/1435 H on the Implementing Regulations of the Foreign Investment Law
The Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA) offers detailed information on the investment process, provides licenses and support services to foreign investors, and coordinates with government ministries to facilitate investment. According to MISA, it must grant or refuse a license within five days of receiving an application and supporting documentation from a prospective investor. Depending on the type of license issued, foreign firms may also require the approval of relevant competent authorities, such as the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Tourism.
MISA has established and posted online its licensing guidelines, but it is reported that many companies looking to invest in Saudi Arabia continue to work with local representation to navigate the bureaucratic licensing process.
The Implementing Regulations of the Foreign Investment Article 11 further states that the rejection of the investment license application, amendment, or renewal by the relevant authority shall be reasoned, and the person concerned may file an objection to the rejection within sixty days from the date of his notification of the decision.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since May 2014

Pillar Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in sectors relevant to digital trade  |  Sub-pillar Maximum foreign equity share
Board of Directors of the General Investment Authority Decision No. (2/74), dated 12/5/1435 H on the Implementing Regulations of the Foreign Investment Law
Art. 3 of the Implementing Regulations of the Foreign Investment introduces a negative list approach of foreign investment in Saudi Arabia. The list does not include the limitation of foreign ownership in sectors relevant to digital trade in 2021. Nevertheless, it is reported that certain restrictions attached to obtaining full ownership have proven difficult to meet and precluded many investors from taking full advantage of the reform. These include a requirement to invest over USD 50 million during the first five years and to ensure that 30% of all products sold are manufactured locally. Moreover, although Saudi Arabia has undertaken a limited privatization process for state-owned companies and assets since 2002, it is reported that the process, which is open to domestic and foreign investors, has resulted only in partial privatization of SOEs in the telecommunication sector.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since May 2019

Pillar Public procurement of ICT goods and online services  |  Sub-pillar Other limitations on foreign participation in public procurement
Cabinet Resolution No. 388 of 07/05/1440 H on Regulatory Arrangements for the Local Content and Government Procurement
The Regulatory Arrangements for the Local Content and Government Procurement Law mandates the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority (LCGPA) to set local content requirements for individual contracts, track the amount of local content used by contractors, and obtain and audit commitments by contractors to increase their reliance on local content in the public procurement. The Law defines local content as “total spending in Saudi Arabia from the participation of Saudi elements in the workforce, goods, services, assets, technology, etc.” The Law requires the bidder in public procurement to include a list of items provided locally in their proposal, and this list of items will vary for each bidding. The bidder should meet a minimum baseline of local content provided by LCGPA in order to participate. LCGPA also manages an online portal through which contractors register their commitments to increase local content. Contractors who fall short of their commitments will be fined and could be blacklisted from procurement for repeated failures to honor commitments over the long term.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

N/A

Pillar Public procurement of ICT goods and online services  |  Sub-pillar Signatory of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA)
Lack of participation in the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA)
Saudi Arabia is not a party to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). However, the country has been an observer of the WTO GPA since 2007.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since June 1983

Pillar Public procurement of ICT goods and online services  |  Sub-pillar Other limitations on foreign participation in public procurement
Council of Ministers’ Resolution 124
The Council of Ministers’ Resolution 124 stipulates that foreign contractors awarded government projects must subcontract at least 30% of the value of the contract to wholly owned Saudi subcontractors unless they can show that no Saudi contractor can provide the required goods or services. Foreign companies with a majority Saudi shareholding are exempt from this requirement.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since December 2020

Pillar Public procurement of ICT goods and online services  |  Sub-pillar Other limitations on foreign participation in public procurement
Cloud Computing Regulatory Framework
The Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC), the telecommunications regulator in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, issued a revised version of its Cloud Computing Regulatory Framework (CCRF v3), which came into effect on 18/04/1442 H (corresponding to 3 December 2020) and replaces version 2 of the Cloud Computing Regulatory Framework (CCRF v2). This version clarifies the restrictions regarding transfers of government generated customer content outside Saudi Arabia.
Art. 3.3.8 of the CCRF v3 states that cloud computing service providers (CSP) and cloud computing subscribers shall not transfer any Saudi Government data outside the Kingdom, for whatever purpose and in whatever format, whether permanently or temporarily (e.g. for caching, redundancy or similar purposes), unless this is expressly allowed under the laws or regulations of the Kingdom. Art 3.3.9 also adds that cloud computing subscribers may not transfer, store, or process shared content from Saudi government agencies' data to any public cloud computing system, community cloud computing system or hybrid cloud computing system belonging to a service provider within the Kingdom, unless the CSP is properly registered with CITC.
Coverage Cloud computing

SAUDI ARABIA

Since March 2019
Since July 2019, entry into force in December 2019

Pillar Public procurement of ICT goods and online services  |  Sub-pillar Other limitations on foreign participation in public procurement
Cabinet Resolution No. 245 of 03/29/1441 AH on the Regulation of Preference for Local Content, Local SMEs, and Publicly Listed Companies

Royal Decree No. M/128 dated 13/11/1440 AH on Government Tenders and Procurement Law
The Regulation on Preference for Local Content, Local SMEs, and Publicly Listed Companies establishes price preferences for Saudi SMEs and publicly listed companies in government tenders. Local SMEs in which Saudi nationals own greater than a 50% stake receive a 10% price advantage on bidding, while publicly listed companies receive a 5% price advantage.
In addition, the Government Tenders and Procurement Law states priority should be given to local SMEs if the value of the government purchases is not more than 500,000 riyals (approx. 130.000 USD) (Art. 30). The regulation further states that the bidding process is not required for government contracts with SMEs.
Coverage Horizontal

SAUDI ARABIA

Since June 2018

Pillar Public procurement of ICT goods and online services  |  Sub-pillar Surrrender of patents, source code or trade secrets to win public tenders /Restrictions on technology standards for public tenders
Regulations for Importation and Licensing of Telecommunications and Information Technology Equipment
Art. 11.9 of the Regulations for Importation and Licensing of Telecommunications and Information Technology Equipment provides a general requirement to disclose details of encryption systems contained in ICT equipment being imported, including equipment imported for government public procurement.
Coverage ICT Equipment

SAUDI ARABIA

Since July 2019, entry into force in December 2019

Pillar Public procurement of ICT goods and online services  |  Sub-pillar Other limitations on foreign participation in public procurement
Royal Decree No. M/128 dated 13/11/1440 AH on Government Tenders and Procurement Law
Art. 35 of the Government Tenders and Procurement Law sets out a range of measures regarding knowledge transfer. The regulation stipulates that contracts in government tenders impose knowledge transfer requirements which would include practical as well as theoretical skill transfer. The regulation does not define further what type of knowledge transfer is required.
Coverage Horizontal