As a much welcomed attempt at improving the intellectual property scene in the country, Federal Decree Law No. 36 of 2021 (the Trademark Law) will enter into force in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 2, 2022. The new Law was published in the Official Gazette in September 2021.

The definition of a figurative representation of a trademark has been expanded to include sound, smell, and holographic marks. In addition to expanding the definition of a trademark, the new Law allows for a multi-class application system.

A Trademarks Grievances Committee shall be established at the Ministry of Economy under the chairmanship of a specialized judge nominated by the Minister of Justice with the membership of two specialists chosen by the Minister. It is now mandatory to the applicant/owner to file in a first stage any grievance against any of the Trademark Office (TMO) decisions in front of the Grievances Committee, otherwise, any related lawsuit shall not be accepted.

The new Law also provides temporary protection of Trademarks placed on goods and services displayed in exhibitions held in the UAE—provided such marks meet the conditions for registration of trademarks. Furthermore, it is compulsory for trademark licenses contract to be  in writing and documented, while it is not mandatory to have them recorded at the TMO registry.

This news follows the accession of the UAE to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks. The UAE has also been actively reviewing and updating local legislation, such as Industrial Property Law No. 11 of 2021, which provisions for the regulation and protection of patents, utility models, industrial designs and trade secrets.

These updates are indicative of the UAE’s drive and motivation to develop its own innovation and economic systems to shift towards a knowledge-based economy.

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