Trademarks are one of the categories of Intellectual Property and are considered the true identity of products or companies. These marks that can consist of symbols or recognizable designs keep the psychological relationship between the consumer and product linked. A well-designed trademark acts as an advertisement of goods, services and companies. Some well-known trademarks in the UAE are those of the chocolatier Patchi, London Dairy, and the food giants AlMarai and AlAin.
UAE Trademark Law: an Outline
The United Arab Emirates Federal Law No. 37 of 1992 is a comprehensive document that defines trademarks, its constituents and exceptions.
Article 2: Definition of Trademark
According to Article 2, “Shall be considered a trade mark anything having a distinctive form such as names, words, signatures, letters, figures, drawings, logos, titles, hallmarks, seals, pictures, engravings, advertisements, packs or any other mark or group of marks if used or intended to be used either to distinguish goods, products or services whatever their source or to indicate that the goods or products belong to the trade mark’s owner due to its manufacturing, selection or trading or to indicate the rendering of a service.”
Parties with Eligibility to Trademark
Article 6 of the law elaborates on who is permitted to apply for a trademark in the UAE. They include
- “National natural or juridical persons carrying out any commercial, industrial, handicraft or services activity.
- Foreign natural or juridical persons carrying out any commercial, industrial, handicraft or services activity in the State.
- Foreign natural or juridical persons carrying out any commercial, industrial, handicraft or services activity in any country which treats the State according to the reciprocity principle.
- Public juridical persons”
Article 3: Items that cannot be Trademarked
Article 3 of the Federal Law dealing with trademarks expands on items that may not be registered as trademarks in the UAE. These include, but are not limited to:
- “The mark having no property or distinctive character or that made of data being only the name given by tradition to familiar goods, products, services or the ordinary drawings and pictures of goods and products.
- Any mark breaching the public morals or violating the public order.
- Public emblems, flags and other logos, of the State, the Arab or international
- Logos of the Red Crescent or Red Cross and such other similar symbols and the marks being an imitation thereof.
- Marks that are identical or similar to symbols having a purely religious character.
- Geographical names if their use would create confusion with regard to the origin or source of goods, products and services.
- The name, title, picture or logo of a third party unless he or his heirs approve its use beforehand.
- Particulars of honorary degrees to which a registration applicant does not prove his legal entitlement.
- Marks that may mislead the public or include mistatments on the origin or source of products or services or their other properties as well the marks that include a fictitious, imitated or forged trade name.
- Marks owned by natural persons or legal entities with whom it is prohibited to deal.”
Trademark Registration Process
Verify its Uniqueness
The process starts with the party ensuring their trademark has not already been taken. This can be verified online through a search engine.
An online Application Form is available on the UAE’s Ministry of Economy’s website for registration of trademarks. This falls under the e-Services category. Some documents that are required to be uploaded include Passport Copy of the applicant, Trade Licence of the company and the Trademark Logo to be registered.
Pay Registration Fee
Trademark Registration fee can be paid on the Ministry of Economy’s website and excludes any legal or translation fee incurred by the applicant. The applicant must then wait for approval. This process can take up to a month.
Publish Announcement of Trademark Registration
This announcement must be made in two Arabic language newspapers and the Trademark Journal.
Trademark Registration Certificate
A Certificate containing details of the Trademark, company, registration numbers etc. is then issued to the applicant.
A Trademark registered this way is valid within the UAE only and for a period of 10 years upon issue. It can be renewed after expiration.
Trade Marks Register
The Federal Law created a Trade Marks Register as a Directory of trademarks in the UAE. According to Article 5, it contains “trade marks, names, addresses and type of activities of their owners, the descriptions of their goods, products or services and any conveyance, assignment, transfer of ownership, mortgage or licence for use concerning such marks or any other changes.”
Trademark Infringement & Penalties
Trademark infringement refers to fraudulent usage of another company’s trademark in connection with goods or services that causes confusion in the mind of the consumer.
In a particularly comical case, a South Korean restaurant selling fried chicken was convicted of trademark infringement after being sued by the French Fashion house of Louis Vuitton in 2016. Louis Vuiton Dak was convicted of not only copying the logo, but also closely mirroring the packaging of the fashion house for their friend chicken.
A person convicted of this offence in the UAE can be imprisoned and / or fined AED 5000. The victim also has the right to file a civil case against the perpetrator for damages.
For more information about getting your trademark registered in the UAE, Click here