IP Law Proposal Comes Closer to Reality in Dubai

Posted on February 9, 2009 at 6:02 PM

The DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) released several draft regulations comprising its intellectual property rights proposal on January 20, 2008 for public consultation.

These draft regulations topics such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. They also pitch the creation of a separate IP tribunal which would consist of three IP practictioners and handle IP disputes within the DIFC to mediate IP related disputes.

The first three proposals mostly emulate existing UAE federal law, and even ensure that IP regulations which apply at a UAE level will also apply in the DIFC.  The additional Trade Secrets Law is unique because UAE federal legislation doesn’t have a counterpart that attempts to define what constitutes a “trade secret”.

The DIFC is clearly making an effort to listen to views of international corporations and international law firms who will be affected by the changes.  Anyone can send their comments to DIFC Authority's Chief Legal Officer/ Chairman of the Legislative Committee Dean A. Ferris at dean.ferris@difc.ae until February 20, 2009.

The UAE implemented its first federal IP laws in 1992, and have consistently been amending them since (most recently in 2002).  The DIFC, set up in 2004, is distinguished by its ability to set own individual civil and commercial regulations.  When there is no specific DIFC legislation, the DIFC opts to apply English law.  This clause means enforcement of IP laws have been ambiguous (since UAE and English law may conflict and lead to different consequences and outcomes).

Clyde & Co has welcomed the change with open arms, surely because it opens up a new window for IP arbitration. We think it’s a great improvement too (especially for IP job opportunities) especially coupled with the fact that in 2006, the Brand Owners Protection Group found “counterfeit goods that entered the UAE market or passed through its ports to other destinations and manufacturers of trademark products cost US$2.7 billion.”

“By creating a strong legal framework for protecting proprietary knowledge, which is one of the financial service industry’s key assets, the new Intellectual Property laws will enhance the platform of growth… promote industry growth by creating the ideal legal environment for product and service innovation… [and] reinforce DIFC’s strong emphasis on integrity, transparency and efficiency,” said DIFC Governor and UAE Central Bank Vice Chairman Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman in a press release.

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