Timely IPR registrations critical to protect brands in ever-growing UAE market

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Abdulla Alawadi & Associates Image
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The UAE’s appeal as a global hub for commerce and investment is attracting international investors and brands to the marketplace. With numerous local, regional, and international organizations entering the country, UAE-based law firm Abdulla Alawadi & Associates is recommending all existing and new entrants to the market to register a brand’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). 

The Dubai-based law firm is spreading awareness on the matter by remarking that IPR protection remains essential for the economy and its further growth in research, innovation, and employment.

The 23-year-old establishment adds that effective IPR enforcement is also critical to health and safety. The firm states that many intellectual property assets are protected under law as copyrights, trademarks, or patents. Meanwhile, other forms of IP can include trade secrets, manufacturing processes, and other know-how that is difficult for competitors to replicate.

Adv. Abdulla Alawadi Image
Adv. Abdulla Alawadi
Founder and Chairman
Abdulla Alawadi & Associates

“There is an ongoing pursuit to protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) because it contributes enormously to the national economy of a country. Several industries within the SME sector rely on the adequate enforcement of their patents, trademarks, and copyrights, while consumers use IP to ensure they are purchasing safe, guaranteed products. Mainly, IPR creates and supports high-paying jobs, drives economic growth and competitiveness, protects consumers and families, helps generate breakthrough solutions to global challenges, encourages innovation, and rewards entrepreneurs. For these reasons, IP rights are worth watching, both domestically and internationally.”

In the UAE, the trademark registration process remains fairly simple. The process is initiated by determining if the trademark being registered is eligible for protection in the country via Trademark Search. Once the trademark for registration is cleared by conducting a thorough and methodical trademark scan, the application is then forwarded to the UAE Ministry of Economy’s trademark department, which reviews and approves the trademark before the formal issue.

Trademark Registrations in the GCC 

Commenting on the trademark registration process in the GCC region, Adv. Abdulla remarked that “The GCC Trademark Law, which was issued in 2006 and revised in 2014, stipulates a set of provisions that apply uniformly across all the GCC countries with regard to the prosecution and enforcement of trademark rights. The GCC trademark law does not offer a unitary registration system. The Trademark offices of each GCC country will remain as the receiving office and will register trademarks on a national basis. Registering a trademark across the six GCC countries will still require filing six separate national trademark applications.”

On the Rise 

With economies across the globe picking up after the adverse impact of COVID-19, Intellectual Property Registrations too have shown a comparative rise in numbers. The World Intellectual Property Indicators Report (WIPI) showed that patent and industrial designs filing activity recovered in 2020.

As per the WIPI report, trademark filing activity rose by 13.7 percent while patents and designs filings increased by 1.6 percent and 2 percent respectively.

The World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) Report compiles new data from as many as 150 national, regional authorities and shows how innovators, designers, and brands are increasingly relying on intellectual property tools to expand their enterprises and seek new growth.

“Significant importance is being given by brands globally to register their IP rights, however, in the MENA region, there is still a long way to go. Majority of the SME’s are still operating on a reactive mode and they act when they are faced with an infringement issue and their brand name is compromised. Companies face insurmountable losses as a result of IP theft. The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimates that annual costs from IP losses range anywhere between US$225 billion to US$600 billion. It’s also worth noting that the loss of IP is different from other types of loss. Stolen cars can be replaced through insurance, but the impact of stolen IP definitely cannot be ignored. IP infringement may rob a company of its revenues,” Adv. Abdulla further added.

Simple ways to protect your IP overseas include:

  1. Partner with a local attorney to legally protect your IP under the country’s guidelines
  2. Register your IP in your target country via patents, trademarks, etc.
  3. Be careful when working with independent contractors
  4. Keep it under scrutiny
  5. Be aware of your Intellectual Property Rights
  6. Consult an expert
  7. Double-check if your idea is unique
  8. Hire an auditor
  9. Keep a record of almost everything related
  10. Protect your IP without delay

Abdulla Alawadi and Associates

Founded in 1998, Abdulla Alawadi and Associates advises on the establishment, registration, and protection of IP rights, whether using trademarks, patents, or copyright, as well as their commercialization through franchising and distribution agreements and third-party licensing. The firm also offers specific expertise in the issues and regulatory considerations required by the SME sector to help clients protect their rights.

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