A Brief Guide of Industrial Design Rights in UAE

An industrial design right comes under the purview of intellectual property right that focuses on protecting the visual features of an article: its shape, design, ornament, or pattern.

A simple definition would be that it is the visuals and overall look of the product. Some of the best examples could be a coca-cola bottle’s designs or a cyclone vacuum by Dyson. Usually, industrial designs are confused with patents, which aim to protect an improvement in functionality.

If innovation is to be protected, which is focused more on improved functionality than visual appearance, a patent application should instead be filed. An industrial design registration can be a valuable business asset for business owners as the success of a product is influenced by its appearance. A good industrial design meets a customer’s desires and needs. To optimize for the best possible product, an industrial designer considers all facets of the design, including production costs, and that it should be visually engaging. It should be protected to prohibit third parties from using the design without permission for their own benefit.

If the design is not registered, legal protection cannot be sought even if third parties are misusing it and any competitor may imitate the design. Though protection is needed for industrial design, other intellectual property objects such as copyrights, trademarks, and patents should also be viewed as part of the overall protection strategy to protect other dimensions of a product.

Legal Protection for Industrial Designs

Industrial designs are protected in the United Arab Emirates under Law Number 44 of 1992 (as amended by Law Number 17 of 2002) for the Protection of Patents and Designs (Pat & Des Law), which could be any 3-dimensional shape used in any industry. Under Article 44 of the Pat & Des Law, an industrial design is only eligible for protection if it is recorded in the Directorate’s Special Registry. The registration application must be filed and examined in compliance with the procedure and fees set out by the By-Laws of Pat & Des Law.

Industrial design protection in the United Arab Emirates provides rights to commercial production, promotion or marketing, and selling of goods for a period of ten years from the date of registration or fifteen years from the date of filing. If an industrial design is infringed upon, one can go to intellectual property lawyers and can be awarded damages for the loss of sales incurred as a result of an infringement of such design. This allows designers to come up with better quality designs without worrying about competitors who can imitate the design, labeling it as their own. A trademark is a form of intellectual property that consists of a recognizable sign, design, or expression that separates one’s product or services from those of others. Federal Law No.37 of 1992, as amended (Trademarks Law), provides for trademark protection in the UAE.

To obtain legal ownership and protection of various rights, a trademark must be distinctive and be registered with the appropriate authority. Trademark rights are usually guaranteed for 7 to 20 years, as stated above. Trademarks do not take into consideration novelty. Trademark protection will be obtained even though the design is not novel, as long as the trademark maintains its distinguishing feature as an indicator. In comparison to industrial design protection, which can be possible only if the design is unique. In Article 17 of the Trade Marks Law, the owner of a legally registered trademark has the right to use the mark.

The following are offenses of Article 37 of the Trade Marks Law:

  1. Anyone who forges or imitates a legally registered trademark in order to deceive the public, as well as anyone who uses a forged or imitated trademark in bad faith.
  2. Any person who places a registered trademark owned by a third party on his goods in bad faith or uses such the mark without right.
  3. Anyone who knowingly deliberately sells or offers for sale having an illegally placed trademark and anyone who knowingly provides or offers the provision of services under an illegally placed trademark will be committing an offense.

Unauthorized use of a trademark in connection with goods sold or services provided in the UAE in a way that is likely to create confusion or deception about the original source of the goods or services is known as trademark infringement. The examination process starts when a trademark is registered in the UAE, and it involves a formal examination, an examination on the grounds of refusal, and a search for previous trademarks. Before the registration, the trademark is published for opposition for thirty days from the date of publication of the trademark application in the Trade Mark Journal or in two local newspapers.

Filing Requirements for Industrial Design:

  1. The UAE industrial design application must include a request for a patent as well as two copies of the design if it is two-dimensional or two copies of each view if it is three-dimensional.
  2. Within 90 days of the filing date, a certified copy of the Priority Document, as well as its Arabic and English translations, should be filed.
  3. Within 90 days of the filing date, an original Power of Attorney must be submitted.
  4. If the applicant is not the designer, a Deed of Assignment from the designer(s) to the applicant must be submitted within 90 days of the filing date.
  5. If the applicant is not the inventor, a deed of assignment should be signed by the inventor and be duly notarized.