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Cablegate: Bahrain: Year 2005 Special 301 Review

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

070640Z Mar 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000321

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ARPI DBERNS AND EB/IPE SWILSON
USTR FOR JBUNTIN
COMMERCE FOR ITA/MAC/ONE CLOUSTAUNAU AND THOFFMAN
GENEVA FOR USTR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD KIPR BA
SUBJECT: BAHRAIN: YEAR 2005 SPECIAL 301 REVIEW

REF: STATE 24592

1. Summary. In 2004, Bahrain sustained a strong anti-
piracy policy, seizing nearly 60,000 audiovisual products,
mostly audio CDs and Video Compact Discs (VCDs). The GOB
legalized its Microsoft software and is now purchasing,
rather than illegally copying, additional software products.
Five of Bahrain's eight proposed intellectual property right
(IPR) laws are still pending in parliament, including:
trademarks; industrial design; plant varieties; integrated
circuits; and copyrights. Laws concerning trade secrets
(2003); patent and utility models (2004); and geographic
indications (2004) were passed. The Nice Agreement was
adopted in 2003, and legislation to implement seven
additional international treaties and conventions is pending
ratification, including: the Patent Cooperation Treaty; the
Madrid agreement concerning the international registration
of marks; the Vienna Agreement establishing an international
classification of the figurative elements of marks, the
Trademark Law Treaty; the Patent Law Treaty; the Budapest
Treaty on the international recognition of the deposit of
microorganisms for the purpose of patent procedure; and the
International Convention for the Protection of New
Varieties of Plants. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --
Strong Enforcement of Optical Media Piracy Laws
--------------------------------------------- --

2. Optical media piracy in Bahrain is not a homegrown
industry, said Jamal Dawood Salman, the Ministry of
Information's Director of Publications and Press. Salman
maintained that pirated CDs enter Bahrain from the Far East,
primarily from Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, and are
brought in small quantities by passengers entering the
country through Bahrain's airport. The proportion of
pirated items seized at the country's ports is increasing
relative to those found during shop raids, Salman said,
because fewer illegal products are making it to the shelves.
Nevertheless, it is estimated that approximately 500,000
pirated media items enter the country every year, only 12
percent of which is detected and captured.

3. The Directorate performed 580 shop raids in 2004.
Salman's office confiscated and destroyed 60,000 illegal
audiovisual items including (in order of volume) audio CDs,
VCDs, DVDs, video games (in particular Sony PlayStation) and
computer software. Salman stressed the need for legal
clarity regarding the distribution of Zone 1 media products
in Bahrain due to differing interpretations by US government
and non-government entities. Salman, himself a FTA
negotiator, stated that during FTA negotiations, the U.S.
FTA team made it clear that the sale and distribution of
Zone 1 DVDs were legal in Bahrain provided that the items
are original and not pirated. The Ministry of Industry and
Commerce also agrees to the legality of the distribution of
Zone 1 media in Bahrain. However, the Motion Picture
Association has noted its disapproval of the sale of Zone 1
DVDs in non-Zone 1 regions and questions the legality of
this practice. Despite these concerns, the Directorate is
working in conjunction with the Motion Picture Association,
directly with studios such as Warner Brothers, Disney, and
Paramount, and with the Arabian Anti-piracy Alliance to
improve detection and stem the flow of pirated products into
Bahrain. Comment: Making Bahrain a Zone 1 movie outlet
would substantially reduce Bahrain's parallel import
problem. End Comment.

------------------------------
Government Software Legalized
------------------------------

4. The GOB legalized all its Microsoft software through an
October 5, 2003 MOU. The agreement is designed to keep the
GOB legal by offering new releases, technical support,
training and special incentives for schools and students.
GOB desktops are "clean" (free from illegal software) and
ministries are buying (rather than illegally copying)
additional products, said Bahrain Microsoft Business
Development Manager Samir Benmakhlouf. He said that the GOB
is complying fully with the MOU and its commitments to
protect IPR.

-----------------------------
IPR Legislation Under Review
-----------------------------

5. Bahrain is serious about developing quality intellectual
property protection legislation, said Jameel Al Alawi,
Director of Agreements and Treaties, Directorate of Legal
Affairs, Ministry of State for Cabinet Affairs. Within the
last two years the Bahraini Parliament passed three IP laws:
Trade Secrets; Geographical Indicators; and Patents. The
Trademarks law and the Copyrights law are with the
parliament, ready for a vote. The parliament is currently
studying Integrated Circuits; Plant Varieties; and
Industrial Design drafts. Bahrain adopted the Berne
Convention for the protection of Literacy and Artistic
Works; the Paris Convention for the protection of Industrial
Property; and the Nice Agreement concerning the
international classification of goods and services,
according to Shaikh Daij Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Assistant
Undersecretary for Foreign Trade, Ministry of Industry and
Commerce. Al Khalifa also noted that seven additional
conventions and treaties are at an advanced stage of
deliberation in parliament, including: the Patent
Cooperation Treaty; the Madrid agreement concerning the
international registration of marks; the Vienna Agreement
establishing an international classification of the
figurative elements of marks; the Trademark Law Treaty; the
Patent Law Treaty; the Budapest Treaty on the international
recognition of the deposit of microorganisms for the purpose
of patent procedure; and the International Convention for
the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.

---------------------------
WIPO Treaty Accessions Soon
---------------------------

6. Legislation supporting the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty was approved by the
Council of Representatives September 2004 and is currently
with the Shura Council (the appointed house of Bahrain's
National Assembly).

MONROE

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