You’re an entrepreneur, working for two or three years on a brilliant and innovative idea in the hope of turning it into a successful business later on.
You’ve already counted the fortunes that you’re going to make.
Then, poof! You wake up one day to find out that tragically, someone stole your concept idea and registered it under his name.
It can shatter your dreams and some people never recover from it.
Unfortunately, this is a very likely scenario. Thousands of people in the UAE have experienced this.
“There are around 10,000 cases of Intellectual property (IP) infringements in the UAE in one year,” said Masami Ando, Managing Director at JETRO Dubai and MENA, a trade body that facilitates investments from and into Japan.
Can you protect yourself from this?
Protect your SME
Ando told AMEinfo that entrepreneurs can register patents, trademarks and industrial designs.
“Patents protect new technologies which they developed, and trademarks protect their brands (e.g. product name, logo of company and product),” he explained.
Entrepreneurs need to file applications to the competent government office, he adds.
He said that patents should be applied before the technologies are published and/or the products are sold, because the requirement of patent includes novelty.
WIPO, a UN agency that promotes the protection of intellectual property throughout the world, says that before seeking IP protection for an SME in a particular country, it is advised to study the country’s legal system that governs IP issues.
There are various sources of information on IP legislation, it said.
“Probably the best place to start would be the national or regional IP office or copyright office to obtain the details of IP protection in your country. You may, in addition, consult the WIPO Collection of Laws for Electronic Access (CLEA),” it said.
IP score and more
According to the Intellectual Property Rights Index (IPRI) 2017, UAE’s IPRI score increased by 0.2 to 7.48, placing it first in the MENA region and 21st in the world.
The International Property Rights Index ranks countries on a scale of one to ten, with ten being a perfect property rights score.
The UAE is doing better than Saudi Arabia, whose IPRI score increased by 0.03 to 6.13 placing it 7th in the MENA region and 43rd in the world.
A 2017 report by Baker Mckenzie reveals that the UAE does not have a comprehensive intellectual property law, but a number of laws are in place governing the different types of intellectual property rights: the Trademark Federal Law No. 37 of 1992, as amended, which regulates the protection of trademarks and trade names; the Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 on Author’s Rights and Neighboring Rights; and the Federal Industrial Property Law No. 17 of 2002, as amended.
The UAE is also a member of the GCC and, therefore, applies the GCC unified patent law. There is a new unified draft GCC trademark law in the pipeline.
Also, Dubai-based Hamdan Innovation Incubator has signed more than a year ago a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with United Trademark and Patent Services to protect the patents and intellectual property rights of entrepreneurs in the UAE.
Startup, a platform dedicated to startup news, explains that trademark owners have to apply for a registration certificate in order to get exclusive rights to the trademark. “Ignoring the process can later cause issues with the intellectual property rights,” it says.
“There is a common misunderstanding that registration of the company in the UAE gives automatic rights for the trademark associated with the registered trade name, which is profoundly untrue,” it explains.
How does the UAE compare to the world in IP protection?
World IPR rankings
The International Property Rights index ranked New Zealand with the highest rating in 2017 with a score of 8.633, due to its advanced economy, ease of registering property and stable political environment.
Rounding out the top ten in the Index were Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg, Singapore, Japan, Netherlands and Australia, respectively.
The United States ranked fourteenth in the world in property rights at 8.07, which marks an improvement on prior years’ scores.