Intellectual Property Rights and Legalities in the UAE

Posted by Awatif Mohammad Shoqi Advocates & Legal Consultancy on September 26th, 2022

Intellectual property rights are broadly understood to comprise of various kinds of rights including ‘patents’, ‘trademarks’, ‘copyrights’, ‘designs’, etc. Intellectual property rights are vital to businesses, especially in this day and age, with many companies enforcing iron clad non-disclosure on their employees regarding their intellectual property.

In this article, we will look some of the key intellectual property rights, the laws which govern them, the term of their protection and penalties for infringement.

What are Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents?

Trademarks: The law governing trademarks in the UAE is the Federal Decree Law No. 36 of 2021 on Trademarks. It replaced the Federal Law No. 37 of 1992 Concerning Trademarks.

The definition of trademark includes everything which takes a distinctive shape, such as names, words, signatures, letters, symbols, numbers, addresses, seals, drawings, packaging, pictures, engravings, graphic elements, forms, colours, sign or a group of signs (including 3D or hologram mark) or any other mark which is used or intended to be used to distinguish the goods or services of a facility from others or to indicate the performance of a service. A distinctive sound or smell may also be considered as a trademark.

A trademark should be registered in order to obtain protection. The term of protection is 10 years from the date of filing the application with the right to further renew.

Copyright: The law governing copyrights in the UAE is the Federal Decree Law No. 38 of 2021 on Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights, which replaced the erstwhile Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 On Copyrights and Related Rights.

Under the Copyrights Law, any innovative production in the fields of literature, arts, or science, of whatever type or manner of expression is considered as “work”. Article 2 of the Copyrights Law grants protection to authors of work of books, articles, other written works, lectures, speeches, oral and written sermons and similar work, musical shows, theatrical works, audio-visual work, architectural, engineering drawings and plans, photography, and derivative works, amongst others.

That said, protection is not granted to a mere idea (amongst others) under Article 3 of the Copyright law. Registration of your copyright will provide protection from infringement.

The economic rights of the author are protected throughout his lifetime and for a period of 50 years thereafter.

Patents: Federal Law No. 11 of 2021 on the Regulation and Protection of Industrial Property Rights is the law which governs patent protection in the UAE. This law also deals with utility certificates, designs, integrated circuits and undisclosed information. This law replaced the Federal Law No. 17 of 2002 On the Regulation and Protection of Industrial Property of Patents, Designs and Industrial Patterns.

A patent is awarded for every new invention resulting from an innovative idea or improvement that constitutes a creative and industrially applicable step. An invention is deemed to be new if it is not preceded by a previous industrial technology in making it known to the public in writing or orally, by use or by any other means through which knowledge of the Invention is achieved, prior to the date of applying for the Patent or for applying for the legally claimed priority.

An invention is deemed to include a creative step if it is not self-evident in an average professional’s opinion. An invention is deemed to be industrially applicable if it is possible to produce or use it in any sector. Article 5 of the Patents law provides these requirements.

The term of patent is 20 years from the date of filing the application.


The new laws on intellectual property rights provide penalties for infringement of the IP. For example, under Article 49 of the Trademarks law, penalty of up to AED 1 million can be imposed on a person infringing a registered trademark by forging the registered trademark, knowingly using the forged trademark for commercial purposes, knowing importing or exporting goods bearing the forged trademark, etc.

Similarly, any infringement of the rights protected under the Patents law is punishable with imprisonment and fines not exceeding AED 1 million (Article 69).


Intellectual property rights are important for businesses as well as beneficial for the world leading to innovation, development and economic progress. It is crucial to register your intellectual property rights in order to obtain the protection of the applicable laws. You may get in touch with expert IP lawyers to discuss any IP-related concern.


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Awatif Mohammad Shoqi Advocates & Legal Consultancy

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Awatif Mohammad Shoqi Advocates & Legal Consultancy
Joined: February 3rd, 2021
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