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Intellectual property covers any original ideas, designs, discoveries, inventions and creative work produced by an individual or group. Copyright, trademark, patent and design are a few of the most common types of IP protection.
The UAE has a strong IP regime and is a signatory to a range of international treaties on the recognition and enforcement of intellectual property rights, such as the Paris Convention covering patents and trademarks, Patent Cooperation Treaty for patents, the WIPO Convention and the TRIPS, the Gulf Cooperation Council for trademarks to name a few. The Intellectual property legislation of the UAE includes Patents and Industrial Design Law number 44 of 1992, Trademarks law number 37 as of 1992, Copyright and Neighboring Rights Law number 40 of 1992.
In this article, we will discuss the main legal methods that you can use in order to ensure heightened protection for your intellectual property rights:
Register and Protect your intellectual property rights:
The first step to take in the term of IP protection is to ensure that you are registering your IP within the territory of its use.
An original intellectual work in literary, arts of the scientific area, whatever its description, form of expression, significance or purpose, is protected under the Copyright law in the UAE. The ministry of economy in the UAE allows copyright registration, and once approved, the copyright remains valid for the entire lifetime of the owner and plus fifty (50) years following the death.
Trademarks constitute any distinctive marks such as names, letters, figures, logos, titles, hallmarks, pictures, patterns, sound marks, words that are used or intended to be used to distinguish goods, products or services. The ministry of economy in the UAE allows trademark registration, and once granted, the right exists for 10 (ten) years duration and can be renewed for a further time period.
Patent protection and registration is allowed for any new invention that constitutes an innovative step or an improvement on an existing invention and has utility, industrial application in different fields of technology. The International Centre for Patent Registration (ICPR) under the Ministry of Economy is the competent authority to register patents in the UAE. Once granted, a patent is valid for a time period of twenty years from the date of filing.
Additional methods to protect our intellectual property rights:
- Take proactive measures against infringement: IP owners should ensure to use additional measures to protect their products by taking enforcement actions through government agencies, including the ports and customs authorities. Such actions may include conducting market raids, confiscating counterfeit items, destroying seized counterfeit goods and other measures.
- Protect trade secrets with strong NDA’s: Take legal advice in order to ensure that company’s trade secrets are always protected by entering into iron-clad non-disclosure agreements with anyone who had access to the said secrets by virtue of their role in the company. Ensuring that a legally enforceable NDA has been signed goes a long way in ensuring that the trade secrets remain protected.
- Create IP awareness within the organization for heightened protection: Be it a company or private or governmental organization, every entity deals with intellectual property in one way or the other. It is often seen that IP violations can occur within the organization itself, due to the lack of awareness of the intellectual property laws and regulations. It is also seen that quite often, confidentiality protection and non-disclosure agreements are signed on paper but never practiced in reality. Such lackluster actions can cause potential entity losses, and hence corrective measures should be taken.
IP Protection is necessary not only to protect innovations but also as a means to incentivize the creator or owner of the intellectual property, allowing them the rights to profit from the said innovation to the exclusion of all others. Strategic and proactive legal measures are therefore required in order to ensure heightened protection of your intellectual property.