Patents, trade marks, copyright and designs in United Arab Emirates: overview
A guide to intellectual property law in the United Arab Emirates. The Main IPRs Q&A gives an overview of the protection and enforcement of the following IPRs: patents, trade marks, registered designs, unregistered designs, copyright and confidential information.
To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the Patents, trade marks, copyright and designs Country Q&A tool.
This Q&A is part of the PLC multi-jurisdictional guide to IP law. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit www.practicallaw.com/ip-mjg.
Excluded categories include:
Plant varieties, animal species and biological methods of producing plants or animals.
Diagnostic methods, treatments and surgical operations.
Scientific and mathematical principles, discoveries and methods.
Guides, rules or methods of conducting business, or performing mental activities or playing games.
Inventions that violate public order or morals, or relate to national defence.
The UAE Ministry of Economy, Intellectual Property Protection Department (IPPD) registers patents (see box, The regulatory authority).
The application form must be accompanied by all of the following:
Two copies of the specifications, claims and an abstract (English and Arabic copies are required).
Two sets of any formal drawings, with Arabic translation.
A copy of the published Patent Cooperation Treaty 1970 filing or copy of the priority filing (if applicable).
Within 90 days, the applicant must file a legalised copy of their certificate of incorporation, and where applicable:
A legalised deed of assignment.
A legalised power of attorney for their local representative.
A copy of the international search report.
The international preliminary examination report, if available.
An interested party may file an opposition within 60 days of the publication of a granted patent based on:
Non-compliance with formalities.
Non-patentable subject matter (see Question 2).
Lack of novelty.
Lack of industrial applicability.
Lack of unity of invention.
Patent protection lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application.
Annuity fees are payable at the beginning of each year of protection starting from the year following the date of filing the application. These are to be paid within a three month period. Another grace period of three months is allowed with a late-fee. The annuity fees must be paid even where the application is waiting to be granted.
The civil courts deal with patent infringement actions. There are federal courts, while the Emirates of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah have their own courts. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) courts may have jurisdiction over infringements occurring in that free zone. A recent extension of the jurisdiction of the DIFC courts may also allow infringement proceedings to be brought there either where one of the parties is registered in the DIFC or by the agreement of the parties.
Registration is advisable to be able to take quick and effective legal action against unauthorised use. Most administrative authorities require proof of registration to take action.
Unregistered marks are afforded protection where prior use can be demonstrated in the UAE, or where the mark is well-known locally or internationally. In practice, such protection is only available in civil proceedings.
The IPPD registers trade marks (see box, The regulatory authority). The application must provide:
The name and address of the applicant.
Representations of the mark.
Details of the goods or services for which protection is sought.
Details of the local representative appointed by the applicant.
For all applicants from outside the UAE, the application must be accompanied by a legalised power of attorney to the local representative.
An application must be filed in Arabic and accompanied by the official fees. Accepted applications are published in the Trade Mark Journal and two local newspapers for opposition purposes, before registration.
All trade mark applications must be filed in person. Filing by facsimile, online, post, or courier is not permitted.
Concerned third parties can oppose an application based on absolute and/or relative grounds within the 30 day opposition period (see Question 13).
The civil courts deal with trade mark infringement actions (see Question 7).
The Trade Mark Law (Federal Law No. 37 of 1992 on Trade Marks amended by Law No. 19 of 2000 and Law No. 8 of 2002) does not contain specific provisions in relation to defences to trade mark infringement actions. A defendant is left to argue that the allegation of infringement is not properly made. A defendant may also bring separate proceedings seeking the cancellation of the mark relied upon.
Anyone who has used a mark identical to a lawfully registered mark or who has imitated it in a manner that is likely to mislead the public, or has used a counterfeited or imitated trade name may be punished by:
A fine of not less than AED5,000.
Closure of the premises of a repeat offender for a period of not less than 15 days and not more than six months.
Damages may be claimed in a civil case (whether stand alone or attached to a criminal case). Customs/border measures are also available.
The IPPD registers copyright (see box, The regulatory authority).
The application form must be accompanied by:
Three copies of the works with a description.
Details of the author.
A legalised deed of assignment, where applicable.
A legalised power of attorney for the representative.
The criminal and civil courts deal with copyright infringement actions (see Question 7).
The IPPD registers designs (see box, The regulatory authority).
The application form must be accompanied by two copies of the design and a description in English and Arabic.
The applicant must file a legalised copy of its certificate of incorporation within 90 days, and, where applicable, a:
Legalised deed of assignment.
Legalised power of attorney for its representative.
Certified copy of the priority filing.
Protection lasts for ten years dated from the date of application. Annuity fees must be paid (see Question 5).
The civil courts deal with copyright infringement actions (see Question 7).
The remedies are the same as for patent infringements (see Question 9).
There are general provisions in the Penal Code, Civil Transactions Law and Labour Law that can apply to confidential information. The Patent and Design Law contains provisions specifically relating to know-how. The DIFC has proposed a specific Trade Secrets Law (currently in draft), which may in time be followed by a specific Federal Law.
The criminal and civil courts deal with actions for unauthorised use of confidential information. See Question 7.
The regulatory authority
The UAE Ministry of Economy − Intellectual Property Protection Department (IPPD)
Main areas of responsibility. IP registration.
Guidance on application procedure. Limited information is available from the department's website.
Chad Dowle, Partner
Rouse & Co International
Qualified. New South Wales, Australia, 2000. Licensed as a Legal Consultant by the Rulers Court of Dubai.
Areas of practice. IP.
- Managing the global and regional IPR portfolios for a number of international and local clients, including one of the world's largest port operators and a well known luxury hospitality group.
- Representing a leading international car-rental company in relation to misappropriation of its well-known trade mark by a local business.
- Representing a leading sportswear manufacturer in the seizure of over one million counterfeit products annually during 2011 and 2012 in the MENA region.
- Regional advisory work on franchising, manufacturing and licensing agreements.
- Advising one of the world's largest finance-related companies in relation to regional clearance for advertising and promotional campaigns.
- Advising a number of FMCG and hospitality companies on rules and regulations around advertising and promotion across the MENA region.