Monday, 20 May 2013

UAE Trade Mark Law

Obligation under TRIPS to protect Trade Marks
As a party to the World Trade Organization, the United Arab Emirates is bound by Annex 1C to the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization which is better known as TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights).

Art 15 (1) of TRIPS requires member states to provide that:
"Any sign, or any combination of signs, capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings, shall be capable of constituting a trademark. Such signs, in particular words including personal names, letters, numerals, figurative elements and combinations of colours as well as any combination of such signs, shall be eligible for registration as trademarks."
Art 16 (1) further provides:
"The owner of a registered trademark shall have the exclusive right to prevent all third parties not having the owner’s consent from using in the course of trade identical or similar signs for goods or services which are identical or similar to those in respect of which the trademark is registered where such use would result in a likelihood of confusion. In case of the use of an identical sign for identical goods or services, a likelihood of confusion shall be presumed. The rights described above shall not prejudice any existing prior rights, nor shall they affect the possibility of Members making rights available on the basis of use."
Other provisions of the treaty set out the conditions for registration, enforcement and licensing and assignment.

UAE Trade Mark Legislation
The UAE's obligations under TRIPS are implemented by Federal Law No. 37 of 1992 on Trademarks as amended by Law No. 19 of 2000 and Law No. 8 of 2002 (see Jane Lambert "The Legal Order of the United Arab Emirates" 12 Nov 2011).  It therefore applies throughout the Emirates including Dubai and its free zones including the Dubai International Financial Centre which also has its own private law of passing off (see Jane Lambert "The DIFC Law of Passing Off" 7 April 2011).

The Register
Art 5 of the Law establishes a trade mark registry in the Ministry of Economy and Commerce:
"wherein shall be recorded all the 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."
Registrable Marks
Art 2 provides that
"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"
shall be considered a trade mark.   Art 3 excepts from registration signs having the following characteristics:
"1. 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.
2. Any mark breaching the public morals or violating the public order.
3. Public emblems, flags and other logos, of the State, the Arab or international organizations or an institution thereof or any foreign country except by its authorization as well as any imitation of such emblems, flags or logos.
4. Logos of the Red Crescent or Red Cross and such other similar symbols and the marks being an imitation thereof.
5. Marks that are identical or similar to symbols having a purely religious character.
6. Geographical names if their use would create confusion with regard to the origin or source of goods, products and services.
7. The name, title, picture or logo of a third party unless he or his heirs approve its use beforehand.
8. Particulars of honorary degrees to which a registration applicant does not prove his legal entitlement.
9. Marks that may mislead the public or include mistreatments 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.
10. Marks owned by natural persons or legal entities with whom it is prohibited to deal.
11. The mark whose registration for some categories of products or services results in undervaluing other products or services distinguished by such mark.
12. Marks including the following words or expressions :
Concession, Concessionaire, Registered, Registered Drawing, Copyright, Imitation is Considered Forgery or such similar words and expressions.
13. The national and foreign medals, coins and bank notes.
14. The marks deemed as just a translation for a renown mark or another mark already registered, if the registration would confuse the consumers, with regard to products distinguished by the mark or similar products."
These are what we would call in Europe "absolute grounds of refusal.".   Art 4 also excludes:

"1. The trademarks having an international goodwill beyond the boundaries of the mother country, may not be registered unless authorized by the owner or by his official attorney.
2. It is the public's awareness about the trademark that determines its goodwill.
3. A trademark with a goodwill, may not be registered to distinguish products or services that are not similar or compliant with those distinguished by the trademark if:
a. The use of the trademark indicated a link between the goods and services to be distinguished and the goods or services of the original trademark owner.
b. The use led to a potential prejudice to the owner of the original trademark owner."

Art 10 further provides:

"Subject to the provisions of Art. 26 hereof, no trade mark identical or similar to an already registered mark may be registered for the same categories of products or services, or different goods or services, if the use of the requested trademark would generate an impression that such goods or services are linked to the goods or services of the owner of the registered mark or prejudicing his interests.
Should one or more persons apply simultaneously for the registration of the same mark or close or similar marks for one category of products or services, the Ministry shall suspend the registration of all applications until an attested waiver is submitted by the opponents in favour of one of them or a final judgment is awarded in favour of one of them."

Finally, art 26 excludes from registration a trade mark that is struck off for years 3 years fron the date of striking off.

Registration
As is the case everywhere, trade marks are registered in the UAE for specified goods or services in accordance with Executive Regulations (art 7). Applications for registration are examined within 30 days of filing (art 11 (1)).

If an application is refused the applicant has 30 days to appeal to a committee consisting of representatives of the Minister of Economy and Commerce and two from the Chamber of Commerce ("the Committee") and from there to the Court under art 12 (2).

If an application is accepted it is published in the Ministry's Trade Marks Bulletin and in two Arabic language daily newspapers. Those who object to the application have 30 days in which to give notice of their objection.  Such notice is then sent to the applicant who is invited to reply.  The Ministry considers the parties submissions under art 15 and decides whether to entertain the opposition or to allow the application to proceed to grant and, if so, on what terms. Any party dissatisfied with the Ministry's decision may appeal to the Committee and thence to the court

If a mark is registered registration takes effect from the date of filing (art 16). The same article provides that the registered proprietor is given a certificate containing the following particulars:
"1. Registration number of the mark.
2. Date of submission of application and date of registration.
3. Trade name or name, nationality and domicile of the mark owner.
4. Duplicate of the mark.
5. Description of the products, goods or services for which the mark is designated and their category.
6. Number and date of the international priority right and name of the State Member in Paris Convention for the Protection of the Industrial Property, where the priority right application has been lodged."

Effect of Registration
Art 17 (2) provides that
" The owner of a registered trademark may prevent others from using a similar or identical trademark, to distinguish products or services that are identical, similar or correlated for which the mark has been registered, in such a way that confuses the consumers."
Once a trade mark has been used continuously for 5 years of the date of registration without any challenge as  to validity title to the mark may not be disputed (art 17 (1)).

A mark may be registered for 10 years and may be renewed indefinitely for further periods of 10 years for so long as it is used.

Infringement
A trade mark is infringed if the same or similar mark is used for gods that are the same or similar to those for which the mark is registered.  Infringement of a trade mark is both a criminal offence and a breach of statutory duty.  The penalty for trade mark infringement is a fine, prison or both.   Interim and final injunctive relief and damages are available to trade mark owners against infringers. Infringing goods may be seized before the commencement of civil or criminal proceedings.

Further Information
Our chambers is developing a presence in the United Arab Emirates and has recently recruited a resident tenant. If you require advice on any aspect of intellectual property or technology law including licensing and franchising or representation before the DIFC Courts or any arbitration, contact Stephen Broom on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or fill out our contact form.

4 comments:

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