skip to Main Content

Patent Registration & Copyright Protection For Software Piracy In Saudi Arabia (Dubai)

Copyright Protection For Software Piracy By  Best Patent Attorney IIPRD In Saudi Arabia (Dubai): Software piracy, often known as software license violation, is the unauthorized use, distribution, exploitation, and/or reproduction of copyrighted software without permission. With the rapid advancement of technology, it is critical for an economy to be able to secure software developers’ rights and provide them with enough protection.

The preservation of the original work of authorship is critical for the protection of the rights of the original writers, and this includes software codes, software applications, programs, and databases. Any person who writes such software or whose name is mentioned in the publication and attributing such person as the creator is an author.

The creators of works and the owners of any relevant software rights will be protected in the event of a violation or infringement of rights occurring anywhere in the UAE. Any infringement of rights in one emirate will be considered an infringement in the other emirates. Software or related rights that are protected in one emirate must be protected in all other emirates as well.

Copyright Protection For Software & Software Piracy

[Picture Credit: istockphoto]

Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country that follows traditional Shariah law, which is based on the Qur’an and Sunnah. Within its borders, the country applies international laws and regulations in addition to religious law. Saudi Arabia is a signatory to the Trademark Law (1984), the Patent Law (1989), and the Copyright Law in terms of international software piracy legislation (1989). While Saudi Arabia is a signatory to the Patent Law, it takes six years for a patent to be reviewed and issued if approved. Saudi Arabia joined the Universal Copyright Convention and the World Intellectual Property Organization as steps toward joining the WTO. Saudi Arabia is currently subject to the requirements of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, after its admission to the WTO in 2005. (TRIPs).

Are software programs copyrighted or patented in Saudi Arabia?

In the UAE, software computer programs are solely protected under the Copyright Law and are not patentable under the UAE Patent Law. A patent application may be filed if a computer program is properly coupled to hardware and presented as a technological solution to a technical problem.

The copyright law stipulates that software creators are entitled to protection in the event of a violation of their rights in respect to copyright protection that occurs on UAE territory.

Protection of software includes:

  • Title of work
  • Innovative work
  • Written innovative broadcast program

However, protection shall not be extended to:

  • Ideas
  • Procedures
  • Abstract principles
  • Facts and works that have fallen into the public domain

The author also has the sole right to exploit such work and make it available through computers/data or any other communication networks as he sees suitable. A single copy of computer programs, apps, and databases can also be generated only with the knowledge of the authorized owner.

Software Copyright in Saudi Arabia

Computer programs and applications, databases, and other comparable works are protected under the Copyright Law when determined and declared by a ministerial decree. In the event that any rights in regard to copyright protection are violated within the UAE, the creators of such works and the owners of any relevant software rights will be protected (Article 2 of Copyright Law). As a result, any violation of copyright protection rights in one emirate will result in infringement in all other emirates, and protection provided in one emirate will be extended to all other emirates.

Software protection would encompass the title of work in the case of innovative work, as well as the written original broadcast program. Ideas, methods, abstract principles, facts, and works that have fallen into the public domain, however, are not protected. It will safeguard any of these works’ innovative expression. The software publisher’s author has sole authority to exploit such work and make it available through computers, data, or any other communication networks as he sees fit.

Only the author’s successors and the author himself may be in charge of authorizing the exploitation of a copyrighted work, whether such exploitation involves reproduction, electronic storage, renting, or publication in any form (Article 7 of Copyright Law).

With the knowledge of the legitimate owner, a single duplicate of the computer programs, apps, or databases can be made. The individual who makes the single copy must have an authorized authorization from the legitimate owner. Computer programs do not grant the right to rent unless the computer program is the primary target of the rent. Financial rights shall be safeguarded throughout the author’s lifetime and after his or her death, from the start of each new calendar year until the conclusion of 50 years (Article 20 of the Copyright Law).

Penalties for software infringement in Saudi Arabia

There are certain penalties if there is an infringement of copyright which include the following:

  • Punishment of a minimum of three months and a fine ranging from AED 50,000 – AED 500,000 upon anyone who infringes the right.
  • In case of repetition of the offense, imprisonment of a minimum period of 9 months and a fine of a minimum of AED 200,000.
  • Anyone who uses the computer program or computer applications or its databases without obtaining a license in advance from the author or his successors shall be subject to a fine ranging between AED 10,000 to AED 30,000 for each program.
  • The court is also entitled to confiscation and destruction of any counterfeited copies resulting out of a violation of the rights of the legitimate authors and its successors.


Intellectual property protection benefits more than just software companies and businesses that provide software. As proved in the United States, following copyright rules has social and economic benefits. The IT business in the United States is thriving, thanks in part to the government’s tough stance on software piracy. The IT industry’s strength generates a viable market for both large and small to medium-sized IT firms, as well as more affordable software.

As a result, the establishment and enforcement of strong software piracy laws may result in new job opportunities, company development, and improved best practices in both the corporate and academic sectors. If the government wants to be seen as a country that values intellectual property, it must take the necessary, and already available, actions to combat software piracy.

The government has the resources and expertise to tackle software piracy. Despite the fact that different parties involved in the usage and sale of software perceive this violation through different lenses, software piracy laws must be enforced, and the cultural understanding of software piracy must adapt to match the legal definition that the government has embraced. Saudi Arabia will see the social, economic, and political benefits of this.

Author: Anuja Saraswat – a student of  B.A.LL.B (Hons.) from NMIMS Kirit P. Mehta School of Law (Mumbai), in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email [email protected] or contact us at IIPRD.

Back To Top