In Brief: Intellectual Property Rights in the UAE

The term “intellectual property” signifies any creation of the human intellect. It comprises of ideas, inventions, designs and discoveries, that can be used to earn recognition and financial gains. The most common examples of intellectual property are copyrights, patents and trademarks, among others.

Protection of intellectual property is vital in the present world to safeguard its continuous growth and evolution. There exists a robust Intellectual Property regime when it comes to the UAE, influenced by the international treaties, such as the TRIPS Agreement and the WIPO Convention, to which the UAE is a signatory.

Copyrights: Copyrights are governed by the Federal Decree-Law No. 38 of 2021 On Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights. It includes innovative works of literature, music, theatre, architecture, photography, computer programs, speeches and lectures, audio-visual works, derivative works etc. As such, authors and creators can protect their works for their lifetime and an additional period of 50 years (Article 20, Copyrights Law).

The authors and creators as well as their universal successors have been afforded moral rights under Article 5 of the Copyrights Law, which include:

  1. The right to decide the first publication of the work
  2. The right to claim paternity over the work
  3. The right to prohibit modification of the work
  4. The right to request circulation of the work on justified reasons

If the work of an author has been published or displayed without permission, the author can request the measures as stated under Article 35 of the Copyrights Law, to be undertaken by the authorities:

  1. Stopping the publication
  2. Provisional seizure on the copies of work
  3. Provisional seizure on the revenue resulting from publication or display
  4. Evidencing public performance of the work and preventing the ongoing display

Trademarks: Following the definition under Article 2 of Federal Decree-Law No. 36 of 2021 On Trademarks, a trademark is anything that takes a distinct shape of names, words, signatures, numbers, drawings, pictures, colors or color combinations, 3D or hologram marks etc. Trademarks are used to distinguish goods of a particular origin from other goods, or services or performance of services.

A trademark needs to be registered under the law for the owner to prevent third parties from using it. Once the registration application is filed, the period of protection commences and is limited to 10 years (Article 21, Trademarks Law), unless renewed.

To avoid infringement of his rights, the owner of a trademark can obtain an order from the court having jurisdiction, under Article 47 of the Trademarks Law, to exercise the following measures:

  1. Describing the infringement, the goods which are the subject-matter of the infringement, and the materials and tools used
  2. Imposing seizure on the materials and tools
  3. Preventing goods from entering commercial routes, and preventing their export
  4. Preserving any evidence related to the subject matter of the infringement

Industrial Property: The Federal Law No. 11 of 2021 On Regulation and Protection of Industrial Property Rights governs patents, along with designs, integrated circuits, inventions, utility certificates, and other industrial property. A patent is awarded for protection of an invention that is creative and industrially applicable. A utility certificate is also on similar lines, for an invention that is not as creative but is industrially applicable.

Whereas a utility certificate is granted for a term of 10 years, a patent is granted for 20 years, from the date of filing the application (Article 18, Industrial Property Rights Law).

Under Article 19 of the Industrial Property Rights Law, the holder of a patent or a utility certificate has the right to exploit the invention, as well as its process of creation if it is specific to the invention. He can do so through manufacture, usage, sale, or import.

Penalties: Following Article 39 of the Copyrights Law, if the rights of the copyright owners have been violated, the person found guilty may be imprisoned for a period of two months, and may also be liable to fine which may go up to AED 100,000.

If patents and trademarks are obtained through forged documents, the punishment prescribed is imprisonment and a fine reaching up to AED 1 million under Article 69 of the Industrial Property Rights Law, and Article 49 of the Trademarks Law, respectively.

Compensation: In all cases where any of the moral or economic rights of copyright owners have been violated, they can claim compensation from the court under Article 43 of the Copyrights Law.

Trademark owners can also file for compensation for infringement of the statutory rights under Article 48 of the Trademarks Law, and similarly, patent and other industrial property owners may claim compensation for violation of their rights under Article 67 of the Industrial Property Rights Law.

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