People and places
With a population of more than 30 million – behind only Iran, Turkey and Iraq among Middle East countries – Saudi Arabia is working hard to become a major player in the world of intellectual property. This effort has been spurred, perhaps, by the country’s embrace of hosting IP-intensive events, particularly through its embrace of Formula One Racing, the WWE and major tennis and golf events, and concerts by K-pop superstars BTS and Western acts like Mariah Carey and The Black Eyed Peas. The Saudi government has put its money behind its efforts to protect IP, as in 2018, it established the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP), a “one-stop shop” for the protection of IP rights in Saudi Arabia.
Already an important base for regional law firms, global firms are spending an increasing amount of time and money on Saudi Arabia. Although most still base their Middle East operations in the United Arab Emirates, more of their lawyers are spending an increasing amount of time in Saudi Arabia, with some being co-located between offices in Dubai and Riyadh.
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Abdulaziz I. Alajlan & Partners is the Saudi office of global firm Baker McKenzie. The firm handles some IP-related matters from offices in Riyadh and Jeddah, including franchising and competition matters, other general commercial work and dispute resolution services, and has a full-service IP team in nearby Dubai.
Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP) is an important regional IP firm with its roots in Kuwait, and its current headquarters in Jordan. Ma’an Al-Khen heads AGIP’s Riyadh office, which handles a wide variety of IP matters. The firm has been involved in revising and drafting important IP laws and regulations in at least half a dozen Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates. The firm has offices spread across more than 30 predominantly Muslim jurisdictions, as well as in China, India and Russia.
Al-Otaishan Intellectual Property & Technology (AIP&T) has successfully prosecuted more than 12,000 trademarks, 6,500 patents and 3,500 designs since its founding 2008. The IP&T specialist is part of the Law Firm of Mohammad Saleh Alotaishan, and has two offices in Saudi Arabia and branches in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and Sudan. The firm’s founder was involved in one of the region’s largest matters of complex IP litigation in Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., an ownership dispute over a petrochemical catalyst. The firm boasts large teams of lawyers, engineers and paralegals.
Alshahrani Law Firm, which is DLA Piper’s member firm in the kingdom, is led by Mohammed Al Shahrani, who has significant experience assisting local and foreign companies with a range of commercial disputes, arbitration and ADR matters. Legal director Mohamed Moussallati is a key member of the firm’s IP team; he brings a variety of experience in general commercial and supply contracts, franchising, agency and distribution, IP rights licensing, assignment, brand strategy and trademark portfolio management. The firm has offices in Riyadh and Al Khobar.
Al Tamimi & Company opened its first office in Saudi Arabia in 2008, in Riyadh. It added offices in Jeddah in 2015 and Al Khobar in 2016, and is licensed to practice in Saudi Arabia without a local association. Nick O’Connell is an IP partner and also head of the firm’s Digital & Data practice in Saudi Arabia; he has recently advised a global social medial platform in respect of regional content regulation and risks associated with the proposed roll-out of a curated content offering and an oil and gas sector technology provider in respect of a dispute involving rights in software code developed in the course of a project.
Cedar White & Bradley handles intellectual property matters throughout most of the MENA region from its offices in seven different Middle Eastern countries, including one in Saudi Arabia. The firm handles IP litigation in Saudi Arabia through Meshal Al Akeel Law Firm. Former partner Saba Al Sultani has left the firm to join DLA Piper; she is based in Dubai.
Eversheds Sutherland provides local advice in Saudi Arabia through its association with Al Dhabaan & Partners. The firm opened its Riyadh office in 2001 and serves both local and international clients. Mohammed Aldhabaan, founder and chair of the firm’s Riyadh office, is a key contact for intellectual property and software protection matters; he is an experienced litigator before all levels of the commercial and administrative courts of Saudi Arabia and has represented clients before institutional, quasi-governmental and governmental bodies.
Qatar-based JAH & Co. IP has more than 20 years of experience in the Middle East and Africa, including Saudi Arabia, advising clients of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies on a plethora of IP matters. “Intellectual property is among the most important assets of every enterprise,” says firm CEO Jehad Ali Hasan. “With the globalization of the world economy and commerce, the Middle East and Arab world with its young population and resources contributes significantly towards it.”
Kadasa Intellectual Property was founded in 1981 by Nassir Ali Kadasa, who has the distinction of being the first Saudi attorney to prosecute and win the first trademark and patent infringement lawsuit on behalf of a foreign entity against a national infringer in Saudi Arabia. He has played an important role in advising the Saudi government on multiple WTO issues. Asif Iqbal is the firm’s head of IP-legal; he served as an assistant director in the National IP Office of Pakistan for five years earlier in his career.
The Law Firm of Hazim Al Madani is a full-service business law firm with offices in Riyadh and Jeddah, as well as a branch office in Cairo. The firm handles trademark and copyright matters for clients including large and small corporations, firms, associations and individuals across a variety of sectors, including retail, health, hospitality, entertainment, software and IT, manufacturing and FMCG.
The Law Firm of Salah Al-Hejailan (LFSH) works alongside global firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer with both local and international clientele on both intellectual property and information technology matters. LFSH, the first firm in Saudi Arabia to successfully enforce a foreign judgment in Saudi Courts, is led by founder Salah Al-Hejailan and two partners, Hussam Al Hejailan and Sultan Al Hejailan and supported by 10 further lawyers. In addition to a Freshfields/LFSH office in Riyadh, LFSH also has offices in Jeddah and Al Khobar.
Prima Law and Consultations Office was founded in 2003 by HH Prince Dr. Abdulrahman bin Saud Al-Kabier, an accomplished lawyer and scholar. The full-service firm handles franchise agreements, a wide range of services in connection with IP rights and e-commerce and information technology matters, including negotiating and drafting contracts in areas such as website development, ISP licences, software development agreements and website licenses, as well as providing advice on copyright and technology protection.
Saba & Co. Intellectual Property, also known as Saba IP, operates in Saudi Arabia through its local alliance firm, Al Hadaf Marks Services. As one of the region’s largest IP-focussed practices, Saba IP handles the gamut of IP matters. The firm’s offices stretch from the Middle East to Central Asia and throughout much of Africa.
Regional law firm Baianat Intellectual Property, formerly known as SMAS-IP, has 19 offices across the Middle East and North Africa. The firm, founded in 1964 by Saud Mohammed Ali Shawwaf as a commercial law firm, is now an intellectual property boutique with 250 employees, including managing director Nedal Al Kharouf. The firm a four-member Saudi-based patents team, six Saudi-based partners and seven Saudi-based legal consultants and advisors. Senior trademark specialist Sondos Shabello managines customs matters in Saudi Arabia.
United Trademark & Patent Services (UTPS) is a top-notch regional law firm which offers the full realm of intellectual property services and domain name services. The firm is led by the well-known Yawar Irfan Khan, Hasan Irfan Khan and Maria Farrukh Irfan Khan. In addition to Riyadh, the firm has offices in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and Bahrain, as well as in parts of North Africa and South Asia.
Other Notable Firms
- Abdulaziz I. Alajlan & Partners
- Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property
- Al Tamimi & Co
- Al-Otaishan Intellectual Property & Technology (AIP&T)
- Cedar White Bradley
- Eversheds Sutherland
- JAH & Co. IP
- Kadasa Intellectual Property
- Prima Law and Consultations Office
- Saba & Co. Intellectual Property
- SMAS Intellectual Property
- The Law Firm of Hazim Al Madani
- The Law Firm of Salah Al-Hejailan
- United Trademark & Patent Services