In an effort to facilitate and promote innovation in the country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued and published the new Law on Industrial Property, Law No. 11 of 2021 in the Federal Gazette No. 706. Implementation of the law awaits publication of the related implementing regulations, which are expected to be drafted by the authorities concerned before the end of 2021.

The Law provisions for the regulation and protection of patents, utility models, industrial designs and trade secrets. The following provisions introduce major changes to the current Law:

  • Inventors have the right to file a patent within 12 months from disclosure of their invention, thus shifting the system from one of absolute novelty to one of relative novelty. While this practice is common in a number of countries, such as the United States, this is new for the UAE;
  • Applicants may request accelerated examination and the authority will accept a number of such cases per year. Specifics on this practice and whether the UAE intends to enter into PPH agreements remains to be seen.
  • Methods of treatment and diagnosis remain non-patentable subject matter, however, the law does not specify the patentability status of products used in such methods. It may be assumed that since product claims are allowed, then by default, purpose-limited product claims, i.e. Compound X for use in the treatment of Disease Y, may be considered patentable. The implementing regulations may provide guidance on this topic.
  • Applications must be submitted in both English and Arabic, as is the case now. This is expected to remain since all indications are that the Emirati Patent Office will continue to outsource the substantive examination which is currently through an agreement with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO).

With the implementation of this new law, many of the practices currently being done in the UAE will have a legal basis and provide applicants and patent owners with clear rights and basis for protecting and enforcing their IP rights.

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