Tax and Legal

Intellectual Property Rights in the UAE

Intellectual Property Rights in the UAE

UAE is one of the most business-friendly countries across the globe that attracts foreign business owners and entrepreneurs to set up a business in their territory. It has become a centre for innovation and business, raising an important question about intellectual property rights in the UAE. Before 2021, the UAE was not so serious about intellectual property protection, even to the extent that in 2018, it was mentioned in the watch list of the USTR Special 301 Report. It stated that the UAE was unsuccessful in protecting the rights of its creations and inventions. But in 2021, it enacted three different pieces of legislation to provide effective protection to trademarks, copyrights, patents, Industrial designs and trade secrets. UAE also became a member of the Madrid protocol in 2021. This blog will discuss, in detail, the concept of Intellectual property rights in the UAE and its protection under the UAE laws. 

A Comprehensive Analysis of Legal Reforms and International Commitments

Intellectual property is nothing but a creation of your mind, including literary works, artistic works, inventions, designs, symbols or marks that are used in the trade. IP protection aims to reward humans’ creativity, imagination, and efforts. If you are an entrepreneur or a business owner looking to set up your business in UAE, it is very crucial for you to be aware of your intellectual property rights and the legal framework protecting your IP rights in the UAE. Various intellectual property rights are available to entrepreneurs or business owners in the UAE, including copyrights, patents, trademarks and industrial designs. You should be mindful of your IP rights and their protection so that no one can copy or use your innovative work without your permission.

Trademarks are one of entrepreneurs’ most important intellectual property rights, as they protect your brand logo from being misused and help you differentiate your products and services from other business entities. It will help you establish your unique name in the market, and consumers will be able to identify your product or services just by looking at your logo or brand name. That’s why it is essential for any business owner or entrepreneur looking to start their business in the UAE to be well aware of their IP rights and protection under the dynamic legal landscape of the Emirates.

Types of Intellectual Property Rights in the UAE

Every business owner and entrepreneur should be aware of several kinds of intellectual property rights in the UAE. Below is a list provided of the various IP rights in the UAE that are protected and enforced by the laws:

Copyrights

It is a right granted to the authors or creators of a literary or artistic work to reward the creation of their mind. It is granted to creative works, including films, music, paintings, books, and even computer software and programs. Federal Law No.38/2021 governs copyright protection, registration and infringement in the UAE. A Department of Copyright has been set up under the Ministry of Economy by federal law, which acts as the main authority overseeing the registration of copyrights in the UAE. The exclusive rights to the work are granted to the authors of the work.

The law provides for an easy registration process of copyrights in the UAE. You just need to visit the online application platform and fill in the necessary details, and the copyright will be granted to you. As per the UAE federal law, the scope of copyright extends to the authors of literary works, musical works, software, photographs, designs of architecture, derivative works, and fine arts. There are also some exceptions for granting the copyright, i.e., official documents, medical procedures, concepts of mathematics, etc. Two types of rights are granted to the authors of the copyrighted work in the UAE, i.e., moral and economic rights.

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Moral rights, as the name suggests, are related to the reputation and integrity of the author and his work. It includes the right to be recognized as the owner of his copyrighted work, the right to be given credit for his creative work, and the right to save the reputation and image of his work from being exploited. On the other side, economic rights are more related to the financial aspect of the copyrighted work. It involves making money from the creative work, such as the right to reproduce or adapt the work. For example, if you are an author of a book and a producer contacts you to reproduce your work in the form of a movie, then the payment made for such use is your economic right.

Finally, UAE Federal Law No.38/2021 provides strict penalties for the infringement of copyrights. If someone is distributing or selling your copyrighted work without your written permission, he or she is liable to be imprisoned or pay hefty fines. These stern provisions aid in protecting the economic and moral rights of the copyright owners and develop a culture of copyright protection in the UAE.

Trademark

 It is a mark or logo that differentiates your product and services from the products and services of another seller. For example, the M symbol of McDonald’s or the half-eaten apple for Apple Inc. A trademark is of various types, such as word marks, shape marks, smell marks, device marks and colour marks. UAE passed the Federal Law enhancing the protection of trademarks in 2021 and defines it as any sign or combination of signs that have the capability to differentiate the goods and services of one seller from that of others and includes within its scope any symbols, words, signs, colours, numbers and 3D marks etc.

As per the UAE Federal law (No. 36/2021), any mark that is similar or identical to any registered mark violates public morality, contains misleading information, or provides a reference to any religious symbols is disqualified from being registered as a trademark. All the information regarding the registration of the mark is recorded under the ‘Trademarks register’ maintained by the Ministry of Economy. Trademarks under the UAE Federal Law are given protection for a period of 10 years from the date of filing the application. It also provides the provision for cancellation of the trademark, i.e., if the trademark registration was done by any process in violation of the laws or the trademark has not been in use for 5 consecutive years. The disputes regarding the registration or infringement of trademarks can be resolved by a trademark grievance committee or brought before a competent court as per federal law. The provisions for assignment, licensing or transferring the trademark are also explained in the law.

Patents

As per the Federal Law of the UAE (No.11/2021), a patent is a right granted to the inventors for their novel inventions.

As per the law, there are two levels of tests to qualify for the patent, i.e., formal and substantive examination. Formal examinations are just to check your patent application, while the substantive examination is to check the three essentials of patentability, i.e., it should be an inventive step, novel, and industrial application. If your invention passes all three criteria of novelty, industrial application and inventive step, then the patent will be granted to your invention in the UAE. The Federal law also provides the provisions for disqualification of patents. A patent can be disqualified if it lacks novelty, is not an inventive step, or does not have any application in the industry. It can also be disqualified if you fail to fulfil all the legal conditions.

The Federal law also provides the process of registration of a patent in the UAE. First, you need to submit the application for registration with the patent office under the Ministry of Economy. You need to pay the specified fees and adhere to all the provisions of UAE Federal Law No. 11/2021. The duration of a registered patent is 20 years, and an inventor can enjoy the exclusive rights associated with the patent for a period of 20 years from the date of filing the application.

Lastly, the law also talks about the transfer and licensing of patents. The patent owner can transfer the license and the rights associated with the patent to any business entity or individual as per his or her choice.

Industrial Design

As the name suggests, industrial design is a type of intellectual property right in the UAE that protects a product’s visible features, including its design, pattern or shape. For example, the Coca-Cola bottle’s shape or Mini Cooper’s design. In the UAE, an industrial design is recognized, registered and protected under Federal Law No. 17/2002.

As per A.44 of the UAE federal law, your design should be recorded in the Directorate’s special register in order to be protected under the law. You need to file the application for your design registration by following the appropriate procedure and paying the specified registration fees.

As per the law, a design is given protection in the UAE for a period of 10 years from the date of filing the application. A business owner needs to register his or her design to be able to protect it from misuse or copying by third parties without any prior approval. Suppose you are an owner of a fashion and clothing business in UAE, and you have launched your own brand of shoes with a unique design capable of registration under federal law. Now, if you don’t register your design with the appropriate authorities, then anyone can copy your design and sell the replicas of your shoes at a lower price, and the customers, unaware of the fact, will go on to buy those replicas. It will not only result in a financial loss for your business but will also impact the reputation and trust of your consumers as the replicas will be of poor quality, and the consumers must have bought those shoes based on your design.

Benefits of Registering Intellectual Property Rights in the UAE

If you are a business owner or an entrepreneur who wants to set up a business in the UAE, you should be fully aware of the intellectual property rights in the UAE and their protection under the UAE federal laws. It is essential for you to register your trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs, and patents to protect your IP rights from being infringed. Below is a list of benefits of registering your intellectual property rights in the UAE for your understanding:

  1. If you register your intellectual property rights in the UAE, you will be granted exclusive rights to sell, license and use your IP. This can safeguard your innovative and creative works from being copied and misused without your permission.
  2. Registering your IP rights in the UAE becomes a valuable asset for your business and builds your brand value in the market. As your brand value increases, more and more investors become attracted to your business, and it becomes easy for your business to get investments and finances.
  3. After registering your intellectual property rights in the UAE, you get the exclusive rights to license your IP to someone else in exchange for some fees. It helps you earn extra revenue for your business and opens various other channels to expand your business revenue in the UAE. For example, McDonald’s or Domino has become a brand owing to its several IPs, and it allows its franchisees to use its name in exchange for fees. It not only allows you to grow your business financially but also helps you expand around the globe.
  4. By registering your intellectual property rights, you get the option to enforce your rights against someone misusing or copying your work without your permission. You can claim damages or injunctions against the infringement of your intellectual property rights in the UAE.

Conclusion

Dubai is a land of entrepreneurs and business owners owing to its world-class infrastructure, advanced technology, lenient tax policies and business-friendly environment, but it also raises an important question of whether the intellectual property rights of business owners are protected in the UAE. In the past, UAE was not committed to the protection of the IP rights of the business owners and entrepreneurs in the country, but in the past 3-4 years, there has been a significant improvement in the UAE laws dealing with the registration and protection of the Intellectual property rights.

In 2021, the UAE passed three pieces of legislation enhancing the protection of the various intellectual property rights in the UAE, including trademarks, patents, copyrights, industrial designs and trade secrets. The law provides for the registration of IP rights in the UAE, and there are several benefits of registration, such as exclusive rights to license, sell, and use your intellectual property. By licensing your IP, you can earn extra revenue for your business. You can also stop third parties from using your creative and innovative work without your prior approval and can drag them to court to claim damages and injunctions against such misuse. Moreover, when you register your IP, it becomes a valuable asset, increasing the brand value of your business and attracting investors to invest in your business.

FAQs

  1. What are the types of Intellectual property rights in the UAE?

    Several intellectual property rights in the UAE are available to individuals and businesses, including trademarks, patents, copyrights, Industrial designs and geographical indications.

  2. What are the Trademarks in the UAE?

    Trademarks are one of the important intellectual property rights in the UAE and are defined under the UAE Federal No. 36/2021 as any sign or combination of signs that distinguish your products or services from the products and services of another seller. It includes any words, symbols, colours, signs, 3D marks or numbers. The law contains provisions for the registration and protection of trademarks.

  3. Can a trademark be disqualified under the Federal UAE law?

    A trademark can be disqualified under the Federal UAE law under two conditions, i.e., if it was registered in any violations of the law or if it has not been in use for a consecutive period of 5 years.

  4. For how many years is the trademark registration valid in the UAE?

    The Federal law grants protection for a period of 10 years from the date on which you filed the application. You can also renew your trademark in the last year of expiry.

  5. What are the Copyrights in the UAE?

    Federal law No.38/2021 grants the copyright to the authors and creators of literary and artistic works, including music, films, paintings, sculptures, and even software.

  6. What are the Patents in the UAE?

    A Patent is one of the intellectual property rights in the UAE given to the inventors for their novel inventions. As per the UAE Federal Law No. 11/2021, if your invention is novel, is an inventive step, and has industrial application, then it will be granted a patent.  

  7. What are the Intellectual property rights in the UAE?

    Intellectual property rights in the UAE are the rights given to the creators or inventors of intellectual property to reward them for their creativity, imagination and invention.

  8. Does the UAE Federal Law on Trademark recognize smell and sound marks?

    Yes, the UAE Federal Law (No. 36/2021) provides protection to distinctive sounds and smells under its provisions.

  9. What are the Industrial designs in the UAE?

    Industrial design is one of the intellectual property rights in the UAE given to the shape, pattern or design of a product, i.e., it is a right granted to the visible features of a product. It is one of the most important IP rights in the UAE for business owners and entrepreneurs and should be registered as per the specified procedure under Federal Law No.17/2002. For example, if you are a wearable company in the UAE and you are making a cool-looking headphone, you need to register that design; otherwise, anyone can copy your design and sell the same design headphones at a lower price, while the consumers will be thinking that they are buying your products. This will lead you to a financial and reputation loss.

  10. What are the collective marks, and are they recognized under the UAE Federal Law on Trademarks?

    In layman’s terms, the collective marks are the marks that an association of members owns. These marks are collectively owned by a group or association of members and differentiate the goods and services of one association from that of another. Yes, these types of marks are also recognized under the UAE Federal Law (No. 36/2021).

  11. What is the central authority responsible for copyright registration in the UAE?

    The Department of Copyright under the Ministry of Economy is the central authority responsible for the registration of copyrights in the UAE.

  12. What are derivate works under the UAE Federal law on Copyrights?

    As the name suggests, a derivative work is a work that has been derived from a past work that is already existing. If a creator has derived his current work from any existing work, it is termed a derivative work. Some examples of derivative works are translations or movies based on a book like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. Derivative works are identified under the UAE Federal Law No. 11/2021 and eligible for copyright protection under its provisions.

  13. What is the difference between the economic and moral rights of a copyright holder in the UAE?

    Author or copyright holders are provided with two types of rights over their work in the UAE i.e.: economic and moral rights. Economic rights, as the name suggests, allow the copyright holder to earn some money from the use of his creative work, such as the right to reproduction of a work. The best example of this would be the payment made to an author of a novel or a book when his book is made into a movie or series. On the other hand, moral rights are based on the reputation and integrity of the author of the creative work. It means the right to be given credit for his work or the right to protect the reputation or image of his work in the public eye.

  14. How do I protect my Intellectual property rights in the UAE?

    You can always file a lawsuit in a competent court in the UAE if you are sure about the fact that someone has infringed your intellectual property rights in the UAE. If you think someone has been using your innovative work, creations, symbols or logos without obtaining your permission, you should immediately seek legal advice from law firms or service providers like Enterslice. But to be in a better position to protect your IP Rights in the UAE, you should register your trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs and patents as per the specified procedure under the UAE Federal laws with the appropriate authorities.

  15. What are the benefits of registering your intellectual property rights in the UAE?

    A business owner or entrepreneur in the UAE should be aware of intellectual property rights as they provide various benefits such as the exclusive right to license, sell and use your intellectual property, the right to claim damages and injunction if someone uses your innovative and creative work without your permission. Moreover, registering your IP rights turns your IP into valuable assets that help build a brand for your business. As you get the exclusive right to license your intellectual property, you get to earn extra revenue for your business by licensing your IP in exchange for fees, just like the franchisee models of various companies such as McDonald's, Lenskart or Pizza Hut.

  16. What is the difference between a patent and an industrial design in the UAE?

    There is quite a big difference between a patent and industrial design in the UAE, i.e., the patent is a right granted to the inventors for their novel inventions that have an industrial application. In simple terms, a patent protects a product's technical features, while an industrial design protects the visible features such as shape, pattern or design.

  17. What are the documents required to register an industrial design in the UAE?

    Registration of an industrial design is not an easy process and involves submitting various documents such as two copies of your design (if the design is in 2D) or two copies of every view (if the design is in 3D), priority document's certified copy and POA. You also need to submit a deed of assignment if you are the applicant but not the designer. Similarly, if you are the applicant but not the inventor, you must also submit an assignment deed duly signed and notarized by the inventor.

  18. What is the deadline for submitting the priority document to register my industrial design in the UAE?

    You need to submit the priority document within 90 days from the date of filing the application. There is also a mandatory requirement to submit an English and Arabic translation of the priority document.

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