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Acquisition of patent in UAE

27 May 2020 (updated at 02 Jul 2021)
Head of Department / Patent Attorney / Mechanics Engineer

More and more often our customers are interested in acquisition of patents in Arab countries, in particular, in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. However, not everyone knows how many patenting details are hidden in such a country as the United Arab Emirates, and there are many of them. Invention of something new, including a new method or a new device, is often the first step in developing of a company and launching of a completely new opportunity for an individual or a group of people. Each country is responsible for registering patents within its territory. Registration of patents in the UAE is made by the Ministry of Economy of the UAE. In particular, patents are managed by the Department of Intellectual Property Protection, which is also the ministry and the body authorized to grant patents. Applications should comply with certain standards for registration, such as novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability. In other words, a patent should be granted for something new, inventive, and also have actual application in a particular industry or in several industries. Here, the legislation of the UAE is similar to many other countries, in particular, to Russia.

Meeting of the above requirements, namely, compliance with the patentability standards such as “novelty”, “inventive step” and “industrial applicability”, is a required condition for a positive decision on the application. The latter standard, namely industrial applicability is very important and is often overlooked. It limits granting of patents for inventions that can be produced and used within the industry. Without taking into account this patentability standard, any type of abstract design can be patented and kept in force, preventing actual development at a later time, when technology and production capabilities will allow catching up with the intellectual essence of the invention.

There are many patent applications which are declined in the UAE, as well as in other registration offices in other countries. The role of the Ministry of Economy and a specific department of the intellectual property protection is in considering of the application, determining whether it complies with the patentability standard and whether it can be patented.

In some cases, a certain type of a technical solution, for which the application is filed, and may not comply with the established restrictions provided for in the patent law. For example, it is not possible to patent a living organism, such as a plant or an animal.

In addition, certain scientific methods used in the development of microorganisms and medical methods of treatment, including surgical procedures, mathematical or scientific theories or business methods, cannot be patented. Also, any invention that is believed to violate morality or public order cannot be patented in the UAE.

In order to avoid problems with granting a patent under the application, it is strongly recommended to work with a patent attorney. Patent attorneys can also play an important role in determining whether patent rights have already exised in the UAE for a similar invention that could be infringed. Unlike some countries, it is not possible to search for currently registered patents in the UAE with the use of the official request or a specific department or a website.

Patent firms can make a search in the intellectual property journals in which approved and granted patents are listed. Since this is a laborious process, it’s not possible to manage without  a legal support. In addition, patent search is an important source of funding that is used before going through the application process and paying fees.

To file a patent application in the UAE, there are several steps involved in this process. Special documentation that must go along with the initial application is also needed.

Each patent application requires relevant documents for its granting. This documents should contain information about patent applicants, as well as any details about the authors. This can be difficult if the patent is filed by a company or legal entity. In such situations, the application must contain a memorandum of association or organization charter, which must be certified and legalized through the UAE embassy. If the applicant is not an author, then an assignment agreement must also be submitted with the application. The specified document should be legalized at the UAE Embassy.

In some cases, an application is an application claiming priority by the date of filling of the initial application. This requires a priority document, which is signed and notarized by a notary in the UAE. If there is the priority document, the application deadline is twelve months from the date of the priority documentation filing.

In addition to this documentation, the application should contain drawings of the invention or its description. The application should also contain an abstract describing a specific invention, including its use in industry. All documents should be submitted, both in English and in Arabic, within 90 days from the date of application filing.

For foreign companies or applicants, a power of attorney is required, which can be issued to the UAE law firm or other recognized organization to complete the application process. The power of attorney must also be approved and legalized at the UAE Embassy and will accompany the application documentation.

After the application is considered and accepted, it is sent for the examination. The examination requires additional fees and may take up to two years. During the examination, the application is carefully examined according to three standards, and it is quite possible that more information and documentation may be requested during the examination period.

If there is a decision on refusal to grant a patent, the applicant has sixty days to submit an application for a reconsideration of the application. Cooperation with a patent attorney to develop an exhaustive argument to remove the cause of refusal is the most effective way to reverse denial.

If a patent application is accepted, the Ministry of Economy publishes information on a patent application in the official UAE bulletin. There is a period of sixty days to receive comments. During this time, any person who objects to the granting of a patent under the application may submit in writing any objection including information on why the patent should not be granted.

This argument will be heard and considered, and the patent will either be granted, or a decision will be made on refusal to grant a patent on the basis of this argument and objections.

As can be seen from the above, the way to obtaining a patent in the UAE can be difficult. Thanks to legal representation throughout the process, many common delays can be avoided, especially when it comes to incomplete documentation and incomplete application materials.

For most part of new applications, from the initial filing to the receipt of a patent, this period is about eight years. Companies or individuals holding patents for the same product in other countries can use this patent as a basis for filing an application in the UAE, which can speed up the process.

Once a patent has been granted in the UAE, it is valid for twenty years and cannot be renewed. Every year of this period there is a mandatory patent fee, which must be paid in order to keep the patent valid and prevent its termination. In addition, if a company or an individual who owns a patent has not been using it for three years from the date of its issuance, then a third party may obtain a permit or license to manufacture this product.

With a valid patent in the UAE, no other company can manufacture or copy this invention. This gives a possibility for the author of the invention or a company which has the rights to the invention to develop the invention in full and create a sales market for his product or service.

Head of Department / Patent Attorney / Mechanics Engineer