We all have at one point in our lives created things that unfolded from our imaginations. The first thing that your mind exclaimed in excitement is ‘this is my invention’, and you would never agree for someone to claim it as their own. Your mind rushed to think of ways to protect your invention from being invaded by others. You wanted to be recognized as the proud owner of what you created.
Abraham Lincoln quotes, “the patent system secured to the inventor for a limited time exclusive use of his inventions, and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”
Ergo, today we have a patent system all across the globe, whereby you can protect your inventions from any kind of unlawful invasions. If it wasn’t for the people who dared to believe in their imaginations and make brave attempts to bring those ideas to life, we would have never seen a world filled with things that took us by awe. Electricity, steam engines, bulbs, telephones, automobiles, machines, the internet and the list goes on. All these products on which we run our lives are the result of imagination. Thus, the patent system encourages people to pursue their imaginations and boldly bring forth such incredible inventions. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a land of remarkable technologies and products, has been consistently striving to have strong legislation to protect Intellectual Property Rights. Federal Law Number 17 of 2002 as amended by Federal Law Number 31 of 2006 on the Industrial Regulations and Patent Protection, Industrial Drawings and Designs (the Patent Law), contains the provisions governing all the aspects of patent protection and registration.
The Patent Law provides for two kinds of patent registration based upon the existence of the innovative element.
As per article 4 of the Patent Law, any invention which springs out of a novel creative or innovative ideas or steps in any sphere of technology and if such innovative ideas or steps involves a scientific approach and has the potential to be applicable in industries can be eligible to obtain a letters patent in UAE. Any inventions which can be used in fields like agriculture, handicrafts and other such services shall be considered to have an industrial application. However, the Patent Law further provides that the application is limited to only one invention or a set of interrelated innovations forming the part of one creative or innovative concept. However, in cases, where after the sanction of letters patent, it has been established that there is no such interconnection between the set of innovations and the actual innovative concept will not nullify the patent issued.
In the absence of any innovative nature or characteristics in any new invention, but can be applicable in industries, the applicants may seek a utility certificate on such inventions. Inventions that lack the innovative nature can miss out on obtaining the letters patent.
Article 6 of the Patent Law provides for the products or inventions on which a letters patent or utility certificate are not claimable as:
It is pertinent to note that the UAE has two kinds of patent systems, where one operates under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which covers the national patents. The patent application filed with the UAE patent office will not extend its protection beyond the seven Emirates of UAE. UAE being a party to various international treaties such as the PCT, World Intellectual Property Rights (WIPO), Paris Convention 1883, allows for the application of patents in various countries simultaneously instead of applying separately with each country’s patent office. The other operating patent system is the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which makes it possible to file for a regional patent application within the GCC countries. If the patent is filed with the GCC patent office, the protection for the patent shall be granted all across the GCC states. However, the enforcement of patent protection in the UAE with a GCC patent registration is uncertain.
Applications for patent registration in UAE should be submitted to the International Centre for Patent Registration (ICPR) which is under the Ministry of Economy. The application form should be filed in both Arabic and English languages. The patent application shall include a request to grant a patent; details of the applicants and the description, specifications, claims, drawings, title and abstract of the inventions. The application should also be accompanied by the below-stated documents:
All the above-stated documents must be submitted within ninety (90) days from the date of filing and such documents must be submitted in both Arabic and English languages. Failure to submit the required or the supporting documents within the said period may result in the irreversible lapse of the patent application. It is also possible to submit the assignment of the priority application in place of the deed of assignment as long as that document grants the inventor’s right globally. Where more than one priority is claimed for the UAE application, then an assignment of each such priority claimed is required.
Once the patent application is filed and if it has met all the required formalities, then the patent office shall issue a notice declaring a substantive and legal examination of the invention for which the patent is claimed. This indicates that the patent application has been accepted formally. On receiving the formal notice of the commencement of the substantive examination, the applicant is required to pay an examination fee within ninety (90) days. By the virtue of the agreement between the UAE patent office and the Korean patent offices, the formal examination for the applications filed in the UAE patent office shall be carried out by the Korean patent office. The duration of the examination could last around two (2) years. The examination is conducted on these three criteria:
The priority claim is also assessed during this period of examination. The applicant is given two to three chances to implement the necessary recommendation or amendments and all such amendments to the patent application shall be filed in both Arabic and English languages.
Upon the completion of the examination procedure, the application can either be accepted and rejected.
If accepted: Once the application is accepted and the UAE patent office agrees to grant a patent, then the applicant is required to make arrangements of publishing such a decision by the Ministry of Economy in the official gazette of the UAE. Publication fee shall be applicable, without such payment, the publication is not preceded by the Ministry of Economy. If there have not been any opposition or objections within sixty (60) days from the date of publication, to the decision to grant a patent by the UAE patent office, then the patent will be sanctioned. Thereafter, the patent office shall provide you with a certificate of the registration of the patent. Upon successful patent registration, the applicant may avail all the benefits and rights to protection as provided by the provisions of the Patent Law. The invention can be protected for twenty (20) years. The registration certificate shall specify conferring the applicant with complete ownership and authority. Therefore, without obtaining prior authorization from the applicant, no one can exploit the invention. Thereafter, all the matters concerning the patent infringements and invalidation procedures can be brought before the UAE judicial courts.
To maintain the validity of the registered patent or the application for the patent, it is necessary for annuity fees to be paid, starting from the next year of the filing date of patent application until the completion of the twenty years of the protection period. The grace period to pay the annuity fee shall be within six (6) months from the due date of such payment, where the first three (3) months surcharges are not included and the latter three (3) months the payment shall include surcharges. However, there is an option to pay the annual fees in advance for the entire duration until the expiry of the duration of the protection period. Failure to pay the annual fees can lead to a lapse in the patent registration or application. Further, the invention can be made subject to compulsory licensing in favour of third parties on non-use of the invention within three (3) years from the date when the patent is issued. The accepted patent is also published in the industrial property journal.
If Rejected: The application can be rejected for the following reasons:
If the application has been rejected, then you may appeal for the re-examination of the application along with the reasons justifying the cause for re-examination. Such appeal shall be made within sixty (60) days from the date when such decision was passed, to the Ministry of Economy. Where utility certificate has been granted instead of the letters patent, the protection shall be only up to ten (10) years. Obtaining a patent on the invention can protect your invention from unauthorized use by others or from being copied.