4 Dec 2019
UAE: Dubai Enacts New DIFC Intellectual Property Law
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has introduced a new law to protect intellectual property registered in the country and will appoint a new Commissioner to enforce the legislation.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, enacted the new Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Law No. 4 of 2019, or DIFC Intellectual Property Law, which came into effect on 21 November 2019. The DIFC is a special economic zone established in 2004 that has become a major financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. As an independent free zone, the DIFC offers international companies and financial institutions 100% ownership without the need for a local partner, and is governed by a common-law framework distinct from the UAE legal system.
The new law establishes the Office of the Commissioner of Intellectual Property, which will be responsible for resolving intellectual property disputes and imposing fines and sanctions. The UAE President will appoint the Commissioner of Intellectual Property, an appointment to be held for a specified period of time not more than three years, but open to reappointment.
The legislation will apply to all UAE-registered trademarks, patents, utility certificates, industrial designs and drawings. It also lays out the rights afforded to each type of intellectual property; the limitations to such protection; and the rules for determining the ownership of patent and copyright in employment relations.
The DIFC Intellectual Property Law was enacted nearly eight months after being originally proposed. According to a DIFC statement, the law has been subject to substantial research and global benchmarking, as well as thorough public consultation, and is in keeping with the DIFC’s commitment to international best practice. DIFC Governor, Essa Kazim, said: “One of our top priorities in the DIFC is to ensure our stakeholders and businesses have the appropriate regulatory environment to operate in or from the centre.”