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  • Writer's pictureBrent Yap

Protecting your Brands and Intellectual Properties in the UAE

The UAE Laws Series 7 April 2023

1. Introduction


In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), intellectual property (IP) rights are protected by various laws and regulations. As a business owner or entrepreneur, it is important to be aware of your IP rights and the legal process to protect them since there are various legal mechanisms available to protect your IP rights including trademarks, patents, and copyrights. It is essential to protect your IP rights to ensure that your innovative ideas and products are not stolen or copied without your permission.


2. UAE Intellectual Property Legal Framework


The UAE has established a comprehensive legal framework for the protection of IP rights, including trademarks, patents, copyrights, and industrial designs. The main laws governing IP rights in the UAE are Federal Law No. 17 of 2002 on Trademarks, Federal Law No. 31 of 2006 on Industrial Regulation and Protection of Patents, Industrial Drawings and Designs, and Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 on Copyright and Neighboring Rights.


Trademarks are an important form of intellectual property protection in the UAE, and they are primarily used to protect brand names, logos, and slogans. A registered trademark offers exclusive legal protection, preventing others from using the same mark or a similar mark that could create confusion in the market. Trademarks are protected in the UAE by the Trademarks Law, which provides for the registration of trademarks with the UAE Ministry of Economy. To register a trademark, the applicant must submit a trademark application, along with a description of the goods or services for which the trademark will be used. The application must also include a sample of the trademark and a statement of the applicant's claim to ownership of the trademark.


Patents are another form of IP protection that is critical for the protection of innovative products and ideas. A patent is a legal right granted to inventors, giving them exclusive rights to their inventions for a certain period of time. Patents and industrial designs are protected in the UAE by the Patents and Designs Law. To get a patent in the UAE, an application must be made to the UAE Patent Office, and the invention must meet certain criteria for patentability. The law provides for the registration of patents and industrial designs with the UAE Ministry of Economy. To register a patent or industrial design, the applicant must submit a patent or design application, along with a description of the invention or design and any supporting documentation.


Copyrights are protected in the UAE by the Copyright Law. Copyright protection is automatic, and no registration is required. Copyrights are a form of IP protection that is used to protect original works of authorship, such as written works, music, film, literary, artistic, and musical works. . A copyright provides exclusive legal rights to an author and prevents others from copying, distributing, or selling the work without permission. Copyright protection is automatic in the UAE, but it is advisable to include a copyright notice on any original works to provide additional legal protection. However, it is recommended that copyright owners register their works with the UAE Copyright Office to facilitate enforcement of their rights.

In the UAE, the enforcement of IP rights is the responsibility of the courts. If you believe that your IP rights have been infringed, you may file a lawsuit in the UAE courts. The courts have the power to issue injunctions, seize infringing goods, and award damages to the IP rights owner. To protect your IP rights in the UAE, it is important to take a proactive approach. This includes registering your trademarks, patents, and industrial designs, as well as monitoring the market for potential infringements. If you believe that your IP rights have been infringed, it is important to take immediate action and seek legal advice.


3. Drafting effective IP protection clauses


Drafting effective Intellectual Property (IP) protection clauses in contracts is essential to protect the interests of businesses and entrepreneurs in the UAE. It is crucial to ensure that the contract specifies the scope and extent of IP protection to be extended to the contracting parties. A well-drafted IP protection clause can provide a clear understanding of the parties' rights and obligations regarding the use and ownership of IP.


Here are some tips for drafting IP protection clauses in contracts in the UAE:


a) Define the Scope of IP Protection: The first step in drafting IP protection clauses is to define the scope of protection to be provided. This can include trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. The clause should specify which party owns the IP and what rights will be granted to the other party ie specify the permitted use of the IP rights in the contract. This may include limitations on the use of the IP, restrictions on licensing or sublicensing, and the purpose of use.


b) Specify the Purpose of IP Use: The clause should specify the purpose for which the IP can be used. This could include use for promotional purposes, research and development purposes, or any other specific purpose agreed upon by the parties.


c) Specify ownership: Clearly specify the ownership of the IP rights in the contract. This will avoid any ambiguity and ensure that both parties are aware of their respective rights and obligations.


d) Use Clear Language: It is important to use clear and concise language to ensure that the parties understand the scope and limitations of the IP protection. Ambiguity in the language of the clause can lead to disputes between the parties.


e) Address Infringement and Misuse: The IP protection clause should address the consequences of infringing or misusing the IP. This can include specifying the remedies available to the owner of the IP, such as damages or injunctive relief.


f) Provide for confidentiality: Contracts should include confidentiality provisions to protect confidential information and trade secrets. This may include restrictions on disclosure of confidential information and the obligation to return or destroy confidential information after the termination of the contract.


g) Compliance with UAE Laws: The clause should specify that the parties will comply with all relevant UAE laws regarding IP protection.


h) Termination and Transfer of IP Rights: The IP protection clause should also specify the conditions under which the IP rights can be transferred or terminated.


i) Provide for confidentiality: Contracts should include confidentiality provisions to protect confidential information and trade secrets. This may include restrictions on disclosure of confidential information and the obligation to return or destroy confidential information after the termination of the contract.


j) Consider governing law and dispute resolution: The contract should specify the governing law and jurisdiction for disputes related to the IP protection clauses. This may include arbitration or mediation provisions.


k) Review and update regularly: It is important to review and update the IP protection clauses in contracts regularly to ensure that they remain effective and enforceable.


In summary, drafting an effective IP protection clause is essential to protect the interests of businesses and entrepreneurs in the UAE. It is important to work with experienced lawyers in the IP field to ensure that the clauses meet all legal requirements and adequately protect your IP rights. Taking these steps can help ensure that your business interests are protected and that you can continue to innovate and grow in the UAE market.


4. Examples of IP Enforcement in the UAE


As we have mentioned , intellectual property disputes in the UAE are governed by federal law, and the courts have been increasingly active in enforcing intellectual property rights. We will examine two cases that illustrate intellectual property disputes in the UAE and how it was resolved.


Case 1# :Lipstick Formula Infringement Case - Patent Infringement


Case Background:

The case involved two companies, Company A and Company B, both operating in the cosmetics industry. Company A had developed a new formula for a lipstick that it claimed was unique and innovative, and it had applied for a patent for the formula. Company B, however, began producing a lipstick that it claimed was identical to Company A's formula.


Company A filed a complaint with the UAE's Ministry of Economy, alleging that Company B had infringed its patent. The Ministry of Economy investigated the complaint and found that Company B had indeed used Company A's formula without permission.


Legal Proceedings:

As a result of the investigation, the Ministry of Economy referred the case to the UAE's Federal Court of First Instance, which issued an injunction prohibiting Company B from producing or selling the infringing lipstick. Company B challenged the injunction, arguing that the formula was not unique and that it had developed its own formula independently.


The court rejected Company B's arguments, finding that Company A's formula was indeed unique and that Company B had infringed its patent. The court ordered Company B to pay damages to Company A and to cease all production and sale of the infringing lipstick.


Company B appealed the decision to the UAE's Federal Court of Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed. The court found that there was ample evidence to support the lower court's finding that Company B had infringed Company A's patent and that the damages awarded were reasonable.


Case 2# : Red Bull Energy Drink - Trademark Infringement


Case background:

In this case, the Austrian company Red Bull sued the owner of a local juice company in the UAE for trademark infringement.. The local juice company had launched a new energy drink under the name "Red Bull" and used a similar logo and packaging to the original Red Bull product. Red Bull claimed that the local company's use of the same name and logo was a violation of its trademarks.


Legal proceedings:

Red Bull filed a claim in the UAE courts and obtained an injunction to prevent the local company from selling its energy drink using the "Red Bull" name and logo. The court found in favor of Red Bull, stating that the use of the same name and logo would create confusion in the market and result in unfair competition.


The local company appealed the decision, but the appellate court upheld the original ruling. The case eventually reached the UAE Supreme Court, which also upheld the previous rulings in favor of Red Bull.


The Red Bull case serves as an important reminder of the importance of trademark protection in the UAE and the consequences of using another company's trademarks without permission. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of the UAE court system in resolving intellectual property disputes.


Conclusion


In conclusion, the UAE has established a strong legal framework for the protection of IP rights. Business owners and entrepreneurs should be aware of their IP rights and take steps to protect them. This includes registering their trademarks, patents, and industrial designs, monitoring the market for potential infringements, and seeking legal advice if their rights have been infringed. By taking these steps, businesses can protect their valuable IP assets and avoid costly legal disputes.


The UAE Laws Series in our ongoing weekly series published every Monday to talk about the different laws in the UAE concerning businesses, foreign investments and the related laws and regulations promulgated to provide a helpful and reliable guide whether you are seeking to be employed in the UAE or doing business in the UAE. This is not intended to substitute a qualified UAE lawyer or legal consultant's legal advice. Our legal partners in the UAE are ready on hand to assist you in all of your enquiries and needs. You can email me at brentyap@vikneshyap.com to know more.









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