Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Qatar at the WIPO

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Jane Lambert

Yesterday, I attended the WIPO Conference "As the UDRP turns 20: looking back, looking ahead" on domain name disputes at the Organization's head office in Geneva. Next to our meeting, there was an exhibition about Qatar and some kind of reception.  As I have written quite a lot about Qatar and the Qatar Financial Centre with its own legal system based on English law, in particular, I toured the stands.

Qatar has been in the news a lot lately for good things such as the recent IAAF World Athletics Championships last month and the 2022 FIFA World Cup as well as more troubling things like the ongoing dispute with its neighbours which I mentioned briefly in How will the Blockade of Qatar affect IP Law in the GCC Countries? on 7 June 2017.  An official on one of the stands agreed that the breakdown of regional cooperation was a concern but he points out that it had not stopped Qatar from investing heavily in upgrading its already impressive infrastructure.

I asked specifically about patents and whether Gulf Cooperation Council patents still had force in Qatar and whether the inventions of Qatari inventors were protected in other GCC states.  The official could not answer my question beyond saying that Qatar does not apply for a large number of patents.  The table of European patent applications by country between 2009 and 2018 on the European Patent Office's website suggests that he may well be right. However, he pointed out that his country has robust copyright laws and he handed me a short leaflet entitled "We Protect Your Right" published by the Ministry for Industry and Commerce with some basic information on copyright registration.  I was also handed a copy of a gallery guide to the National Museum of Dohar 

That leaflet on copyright registration appeared to be the only literature in English on intellectual property at the exhibition but there is a statistical country profile on Qatar on the WIPO website.  It would appear from WIPO's country profile that Qatar is party to the Paris, Berne and other international agreements and has comprehensive intellectual property laws.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or Qatari IP law generally should contact me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during British office hours or message me through my contact page,

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Dubai Smart City Accelerator

Dubai Fort
Author Kimon Berlin
Licence Creative Commons Share-Alike 2.0 Generic

Jane Lambert

The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, which manages a free trade zone for information and communications technology businesses in the emirate, has invited applications for its Smart City Accelerator which will run from September 2019 to January 2020. This is not the first accelerator programme to take place in Dubai.  I reported on the DIFC's financial technology programme in FinTech in Dubai on 3 Aug 2017.

According to the Authority's press release:
"This year, scouts are particularly on the lookout for startups that specialize in 5G applications, connected stadiums, smart retail, smart airports, and smart payments. However, the program is open to applicants from across the spectrum of smart city solutions, including internet of things and connectivity, urban automation and mobility, artificial intelligence, blockchain, open city data, sustainable cities and living, and smart government."
The Accelerator will be run by Startupbootcamp which operates a number of accelerators around the world.

The Startupbootcamp web page offers 10 selected companies hands-on mentorship from over 100 industry experts, office space in Dubai, seed funding, and access to a global network of investors and corporate partners from across the Smart City industries.  The successful candidates will need to know about registering trade marks in the United Arab Emirates and their leading markets around the world as well as the various ways of protecting their investment in technology. It is not clear from the announcements by the Authority or operator who will supply that guidance or whether it will be supplied as part of the programme but I shall be glad to advise them individually or collectively by phone, Skype or otherwise if necessary.

The closing date for applications is 30 June 2019.  This post links to the application page,

Anyone wishing to discuss any of these issues should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during London office hours or they can contact me through my message form.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

DIFC Expansion likely to present new Opportunities for the DIFC Courts

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Jane Lambert

The Dubai International Financial Centre ("DIFC") is a free zone for banking, insurance, securities trading and other financial services. It was established with the aim of transforming Dubai into a major financial centre. On 7 Jan 2019, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai announced plans to triple the size of the Centre (see the DIFC press release Mohammed Bin Rashid Approves DIFC’s New Expansion Plan 8 Jan 2019).

The press release states that
"Upon completion, the new district will comprise 6.4 million square feet of office space, 2.6 million square feet of creative space, 1.5 million square feet of residences, 1.3 million square feet of retail space and 700,000 square feet devoted to leisure and entertainment. This will be complemented by a financial campus covering approximately 400,000 square feet, an additional 250,000 square feet of hospitality offerings, and 3.5 million square feet of car parking space."
The DIFC already has its own laws based on English common law with its own English language courts and tribunals.  It is reasonable to suppose that those laws will apply to the new area.

I first discussed the DIFC's legal system in DIFC Courts 7 Jan 2011 JD Supra. When I wrote that introduction nearly all the judges of the DIFC's Courts were Commonwealth expatriates.   Many of those judges have now retired and been replaced by Emirati citizens.  Chief Justice Tun Zaki Bin Azmi is Malaysian but the Deputy Chuel Justice and four other judges are Emiratis.

The DIFC Courts will accept jurisdiction where parties choose those courts for the resolution of future or existing disputes (see Jane Lambert DIFC Courts Spread Their Wings  7 Dec 2011). Businesses in developing countries may prefer their disputes to be resolved in Dubai rather than London or New York for all sorts of reasons.  As the DIFC courts are English speaking common law tribunals, they are likely to be acceptable to many businesses in developed countries.  I discussed choice of jurisdiction clauses in DIFC Courts: Choice of Jurisdiction Clauses 28 Dec 2012.

Another development that could increase the importance of the DIFC Courts is the creation of a virtual commercial city. Art 3 of the Dubai government's Fifty Yeat Charter envisages "the establishment of the first virtual commercial city in the region that grants commercial licenses without having to reside in Dubai. The city will allow investors to open bank accounts and grant e-residencies according to best international laws and regulations." The government hopes to have 100,000 companies in that virtual city.  The reference to "best international laws and regulations" are presumably the laws and regulations of the DIFC and the tribunals that would apply those laws are likely to be the DIFC Courts.

The DIFC Courts belong to an organization known as The International Consortium for Court Excellence which has members from various parts of the world including Bhutan, Namibia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland as well as the USA, Canada, Australia and Brazil.  Dubai hosted the annual conference of that consortium in November 2018 (see press release DIFC Courts host international court excellence and legal tech conference 7 Nov 2018).

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or the DIFC Courts generally should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Designers making use of the Small Claims Tribunal in Dubai

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Jane Lambert

A press release issued by the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts caught my eye with the headline "Designer Courts". It referred to a cooperation agreement between the Dubai Design and Fashion Council and the Dubai Dispute Resolution Authority which was signed on 15 March 2017 "to pave the way for wider adoption of the English language, international law courts system by Dubai’s fast-developing design and fashion sector."

I have not yet found a copy of the agreement but the press release suggests it contains the following provisions:
  • "Dubai Design & Fashion Council (DDFC) support opt-in to DIFC Courts through new cooperation agreement with DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA)
  • DIFC Courts Small Claims Tribunal to underpin Dubai’s expanding design and fashion sector through swift, English language dispute resolution
  • Agreement lays foundation to explore adding Design IP as a topic for Courts of the Future"
I was particularly interested in the last of those bullet points which refers to "Design IP" because this is the first occasion that I have seen an official document considering the use of the DIFC's English language common law courts as a forum for resolving IP disputes.

Intellectual property is a federal responsibility in the United Arab Emirates and designs are protected by registration under Chapter 3 of Federal Law No. 31 of 2006 Pertaining to the Industrial Regulation and Protection of Patents, Industrial Drawings, and Designs.  The DIFC courts already had jurisdiction in breach of confidence and passing off cases under the DIFC Law of Obligations. The agreement between the DDFC and the DRA seems to extend that jurisdiction with the consent of the parties.

I have already discussed the DRA and the Small Claims Tribunal in my articles dated 27 July 2016 and 20 April 2017.  According to its website
"The Dubai Design & Fashion Council (DDFC) was established by the Dubai Government to raise the profile of Dubai as a regional and global destination for design. Leading the development of a sustainable industry, DDFC provides in-depth market intelligence and helps elevate local and regional talent, enabling the contribution of the creative industries to the development of the Emirate."
Looking through its news and resources pages I am glad to see that the DDFC already gives its members advice and information about intellectual property law.

The press release states:
"As design entrepreneurs start up and compete across the region and beyond, they are reliant on key partnerships for talent, funding and materials. These need to be protected to enable businesses to trade securely and grow. By opting in to DIFC Courts Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) using a standard contract clause, enterprises will benefit from its proven capacity resolve disputes amicably and fast in English, with 85% of cases settled within four weeks."

It is important to stress that the parties must consent to the DIFC courts' jurisdiction.  For licences, distribution, franchising, joint venture and other agreements, the following clause is suggested:
"Any dispute, difference, controversy or claim arising out of or in connection with this contract, including (but not limited to) any question regarding its existence, validity, interpretation, performance, discharge and applicable remedies, shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre (“the DIFC Courts”)."
For existing disputes, the press release suggests the following:
"Any dispute, difference, controversy or claim arising out of or in connection with [Define Dispute], including (but not limited to) any question regarding the existence, validity, interpretation, performance, discharge and applicable remedies of the underlying contract in dispute, shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre (“the DIFC Courts”)."  
There appears to be no reason why the court should not hear infringement disputes thought perhaps not revocation and invalidity applications without further federal legislation.  That appears to be in the contemplation of the Emirati authorities: "
"Thinking ahead for businesses of the future, DIFC Courts and DDFC will work together to understand the industries needs from a legislative perspective for IP law."
An incentive to opt into the Small Claims Tribunal's jurisdiction is that it offers speedy resolution.  According to the press release:
"Through the award-winning smart SCT, firms with claims can access a virtual courtroom online from anywhere in the world. With the option of serving notice via instant messaging and social media, business owners can now solve legal problems using their smartphones or laptops with minimal interruption even as they travel."
Anyone wishing to discuss this article or design law generally should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during UK office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

BADIR - Helping SME in Saudi Arabia

Author: Carport
Licence Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 unported
Source Wikipedia Commons

Jane Lambert

According to the home page of the BADIR website, "badir" means "to initiate" in Arabic. BADIR is a programme to accelerate the growth of emerging technology businesses in Saudi Arabia.  It is an initiative of the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (see Saudi Arabia: King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology 6 Sep 2012 and the video Introduction film about King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology).

BADIR assists both Saudi and foreign businesses to establish and grow in Saudi Arabia, The services that it offers to Saudis are accelerators, boot camps, incubators and services for inventors.  The services that it offers to foreigners is what it calls "a soft landing" into Saudi  Arabia.

The first accelerator was launched in 2016 with 7 companies and lasted for 4 months.  The programme consisted of workshops, consultations and pitching for seed funding.

Boot camps are are intensive workshops in business modelling, finance, marketing lasting no more than a few days.  Two have recently taken place at Qassim and Riyadh.

There are incubators for advanced manufacturingbiotechnology and information and communications technology, Slightly different criteria apply for acceptance on each of those programmes and slightly different services and facilities are provided.  Incubators are located in Riyadh and Taif.

Help with patenting and commercialization is offered to inventors by BADIR.

BADIR helps established foreign companies with technology that is likely to benefit Saudi Arabia to establish themselves in that country.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during normal British business hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Friday, 30 March 2018

ACDR's First Domain Name Disputes

Jane Lambert

In Arab Center for Dispute Resolution: New Kid on the UDRP Block 20 Oct 2015 I introduced the Arab Center for Dispute Resolution ("ACDR") domain name dispute resolution service. The ACDR is one of five dispute resolution dispute resolution service providers that have been approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") for the resolution of generic top level domain name disputes (see List of Approved Dispute Resolution Service Providers on the ICANN website).

When I wrote my previous article, the ACDR had not resolved any cases.  It has now resolved four:
There have been two complainants, SellAnyCar.com FZE and MBC both of which have been represented by Al-Tamini & Co.  The first three cases have been successful but the fourth failed.

For further information on domain name disputes see Domain Name Disputes  on NIPC Branding.  if you are a brand owner and wish to evict a cyber squatter, see Evicting a Cybersquatter using the UDRP 18 July 2017 NIPC Branding. If you are accused of cyber squatting, see Resisting Eviction under the UDRP 19 July 2017. Call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 if you wish to discuss this article or domain name dispute resolution in general or send me a message through my contact form.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts hear their First Case

Jane Lambert

In Abu Dhabi Global Market - Yet Another Common Law Enclave in the Gulf 22 Feb 2016 I reported that Abu Dhabi had set up its own financial centre known as Abu Dhabi Global Market with its own English language common law courts.  I can now add that the Court of First Instance has heard its first case.

The Court heard for an application for interim declarations brought by the claimant Afkar Capital Ltd, against Saifallah Mohamed Amin Mahmoud Fikry (see  Afkar Capital Limited v Fikry [2017] ADGMCFI 1). Both sides were instructed by English counsel and the application came on before Sir Andrew Smith.

Sir Andrew refused the application for three reasons. The first was that the application raised issues that could only be determined at trial. The second was that the action was due to come on for trial early in the New Year. Interim declaratory relief would only marginally benefit the claimant but could result in injustice for the defendant.   Thirdly, an interim declaration would serve no practical purpose.

Anyone wishing to discuss this case or the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts generally should call me between 08:30 to 18:30 London time on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.