How Do You Do a Patent Search in The UAE?

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Of all the different types of intellectual property rights such as copyrights, trademarks, designs etc., no other intellectual property right signifies ‘innovations’ as ‘patents’ do. In fact, a patent signifies an exclusive right granted to an inventor by the government to the exclusion of all others (including the government) to profit by making, selling or issuing the patented invention for a definite period of time (usually twenty years). Thus, the patent rights in itself have been designed to encourage innovations culminating in useful inventions that prove unique and useful to the society at large.

The UAE has recently issued the Federal Law no. 11 of 2021 concerning the regulation and protection of industrial property rights (‘the new patents law’). The new patents law has repealed the previous act (Federal Law No. 31 of 2016). The new patent’s law defines the patentability criteria as, ‘a patent shall be granted for each new invention contrived from a creative idea or creative enhancement, forms an inventive step and is capable of industrial application” (Ref: Article 5). Patents are granted in the UAE for a term of twenty years from the date of filing of the patent application.

The International Center for Patent Registration (ICPR), established under the Ministry of Economy, UAE constitutes the competent authority for patent registration. One can initiate a patent search including a prior art search directly with the said ministry. The following point should be kept in mind while initiating a patent search:

  • It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the existing prior art. Prior art refers to any evidence that your invention is already known. It need not be always take commercial or physical forms but can simply be any evidence that exists at any given point to show that your invention has been previously described or shown by somebody. By completing a critical analysis of the existing prior art, you will be in a better position to understand the patentability of your invention before initiating any further steps. For a patent to be granted in the UAE absolute worldwide novelty is required for the said invention or inventive step.
  • Conduct both a keyword search as well as a semantic search. A semantic search is more advanced search technique, and includes not only a keyword search, but aims to determine the intent and contextual meaning assigned to the search words.

The new patent law aims to modernize the industry practices in confirmation with the international best practices. Amidst the new changes introduces in alignment with international practices includes the concept of ‘urgent patent applications’ that allow an applicant to request the patent office to accelerate the examination process. Further, patent applications can be submitted in English or Arabic with the added grace period of ninety days being allowed to produce the required document for filing. The ninety days’ time period starts from the receipt of the official notice requesting for the missing documents (if any) to be submitted to the patent office.

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