Business Law: Intellectual Property in the UAE

Subject: Law
Pages: 10
Words: 2781
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Study level: Undergraduate


The UAE is a member of various global conventions on intellectual property rights including Madrid and PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty). This membership reveals the wide recognition of the purpose and the need for protection of international IP rights of other nations in the global marketplace. In the UAE, registration of the IP falls under the docket of ministry of economy (MOE). In the current technological world, the need to protect IP in an online environment has emerged. Nations are modifying their IP rights to apply well in the protection of internet-related IP. Since IP rights apply both at national and international levels, this dissertation paper discusses the international treaties that are related to IP and the UAE legislation on IP with reference to copyright legislation, copyright legislation on the internet, infringement in the traditional context, and infringement in the context of the internet.

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International Legislation: International Agreements that related to the Intellectual Property

Protection of intellectual property is important in the effort to protect innovation and creativity within a nation. IP means intangible objects such as literary works, artistic productions, scientific discoveries, and plans for inventions and designs, which acquire their value primarily from creative efforts (Fitzgerald and Olwan 566). Intellectual property rights protect these fruits of human mind with the aim of rewarding their creators together with promotion of economic, social, and technological development of nations (Trimble and Goldstein 102). Creativity and innovation may emanate from any place across the globe. The realisation of this claim reveals the need to protect IP at international levels. For this purpose, international conventions on intellectual property are enacted. Global legislation on IP rights is codified in the form of international treaties.

There are different international IP-related treaties and conventions. The Paris Convection protects the industrial IP. It has four main divisions of provisions that shield the IP. The first category comprises the national treatment laws, which contain substantive regulation that is aimed at guaranteeing fundamental IP rights to all member countries (Trimble and Goldstein 242). The second category establishes priority rights while the third category contains rules for obligations of individuals together with legal entities in different nations to comply with IP rights’ substantive laws. The fourth category sets out administrative frameworks for implementation of the pacts (Trimble and Goldstein 242). The Berne Convection protects artistic and all types of literary works. Its main aim encompasses protecting “in as effective and uniform a manner as possible, the rights of authors in their literary and artistic works” (Trimble and Goldstein 262). The pacts underwent revisions to ensure adequate protection of all artistic and literary works, which have not been released for use in the public domain in the plight of the emerging technologies.

Berne Convection underwent revisions typically after 20 years since its adoption in1886. However, technological developments in 1970s and 1980s such as computer storage and home taping among others introduced more challenges to the protection of artistic and literary work rights. This situation led to the creation of TRIPS Pacts in 1994 to safeguard artistic works and literary works that were not adequately protected under Berne Conventions. Later, WIPO Copy Rights Treaty (WCT) and WPPT (WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty) were established in 1996 to address copyright issues that were not sufficiently addressed by TRIPS Pacts (Trimble and Goldstein 269).

In its provisions, WCT incorporates the provisions of Berne Convection, although it additionally addresses copyright problems that are associated with the ‘digital agenda’. It requires people to seek authentication for digital content creators when transmitting them to other people through the internet and other digital media platforms and networks (Trimble and Goldstein 271). It also provides exceptions in terms of storage of digital materials while at the same time stipulating various technological interventions to ensure adequate protection of information management rights. PCT focuses on the cooperation of different states in national patent protection systems. It requires people to make application for protecting their patents in different nations, which they seek to have their patents protected. However, exceptions apply to situations in which applications are made through regional systems for patenting such as the European system, ARIPO, or IOPI. After successful patent registration with the national patent office, members of PCT have the responsibility of protecting all patent rights that are registered with the national office of one of the member states.

The Budapest Agreement relates to the disposition of microorganisms for purposes of protection. Paris Convection establishes the treaty under article 19 (Trimble and Goldstein 285). The treaty demands states to recognise any deposits of microorganisms made with ‘international depository authority,’ whether this body is within or outside the member states’ territory, while patenting microorganisms. The body exists for purposes of culturing and protecting microorganisms, which nations cannot individually manage to culture. The Madrid Treaty establishes an international system of registering marks. WIPO International Bureau administers the system while also gazetting different international marks (Trimble and Goldstein 287).

Hague Treaty is an international agreement for depositing industrial designs. It was adopted through Paris convection frameworks in 1925. The pact has undergone several revisions and supplementations. The 1934 London Act and the 1960 Hague Act are some of the significant provisions under ‘The Hague Treaty. They regulate IP among signatory member states. Though not yet in force, the 1999 Geneva Act is also an important Act that regulates the depositing of industrial designs for patenting as it is incorporated in The Hague Treaty. The 1960 Act controls and governs about 95 percent of all international industrial design deposits (Trimble and Goldstein 293).

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Trademark Law Pact seeks to harmonise different procedures for administration about national application and mark protection. Its incorporation was done in 1994 in Geneva, although its enforcement took place in 1996 (Trimble and Goldstein 297). New parties to the pacts join either individually or through intergovernmental entities, to which they subscribe membership, such as the EU or the OAPI. In its regulations, Trimble and Goldstein confirm that the pact does not “deal with the substantive parts of trademark law that covers the registration of marks” (297). The pact applies to different commodities and services marks, but the marks must be tri-dimensional and observable. Certification, official recognition, and combined marks are not recognised in the pact.

Other important international agreements that relate to property rights include Strasbourg Pacts, Patent Law Agreement, Vienna Treaty, Locarno Pact, Rome convection, and Nice Pacts. Strasbourg pacts establish classification guidelines for property rights that relate to patents, industrial designs, and brand names. The Vienna Agreement governs figurative components in marks. Locarno Pact defines the approaches for grouping different industrial designs (Trimble and Goldstein 313). The Nice Agreement relates to international approaches for services together with product classifications with the objective of registering their marks. Adopted in 2000 in Geneva, Patent Law Treaty aims at harmonising various formal approaches that are deployed in regional and national patenting and patents. It also avails various requirements for application by the offices of the contracting parties.

The Rome convection establishes rules and procedures for protecting organisations that engage in broadcasting, production of phonograms, and artistic performance (Trimble and Goldstein 314). Technological developments offset intellectual rights. The Rome convection sought to enhance better protection of its focus organisations against duplication of their works upon considering the insufficiency of copyright law to protect the organisations fully when new technologies emerge. This claim suggests that international treaties that relate to IP protection evolved depending on the emergence of new threats such as technology to intellectual property for different innovations in different industries. As evidenced in the next section on the UAE legislation on IP, even at national level, the evolution of IP legislation is also important to protect people and organisations’ IP due to the emerging new threats such as the internet and other technological developments.

The UAE Legislation

Copyright Legislation

The UAE is a signatory to Berne convection, which protects artistic and literary works. Through the legislation, the UAE protects copyrights of different people within it and at international platforms. However, it has well established copyright law at the national level. Fitzgerald and Olwan claim that nations that joined WTO (World Trade Organisation) also signed various pacts that were associated with the organisation such as TRIPS pact, which compelled them to make changes in their national copyright laws to comply with the pacts (565). The UAE encompassed one of such nations as it reviewed its copyright law in 2002. In fact, Fitzgerald and Olwan assert, “the UAE promulgated a new copyright law that was titled the Federal Law No.7 of 2002 (The UAE) Pertaining to Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights” (565). The UAE is also a member state to WPPT, WCT, PCT, and Paris Convention. Thus, any regulations on the protection of intellectual property at national levels, as advocated for by the conventions and pacts, apply in the UAE copyright law.

Copyright laws in the UAE not only protect ideas, but also idea expression. Article 7 stipulates various moral and economic rights of the original creators of any material. The author or persons who are granted rights by authors or creators of any original work have the right for giving licences authorising the exploitation of any work through reproduction, downloading, transmission, broadcasting, or any other means (Fitzgerald and Olwan 566). Article 8 permits rental of audio-visual works and software. However, it provides limitations to the renting of the software. The article states that the software renting does not apply to the case of computer software, unless it is clearly stated as constituting one of the rental objects (Fitzgerald and Olwan 567).

Article 18 protects phonogram producers from any exploitation such as re-broadcasting, rental, availing of copyright materials in the public domain without authentication, and reproducing of materials. They are also accorded rights of disseminating their work through computers, wire, and wireless means or any other means they may deem appropriate (Fitzgerald and Olwan 568). Article 19 gives media companies the freedom of giving authorisation for use of any of their footage and hence transmission. It also gives them the right of forbidding public communication unless they grant such authority. Article 7, 8, 18, and 19 of the UAE copyright law exemplifies the strictness of the UAE in protecting intellectual property of its citizens. However, for protection, the UAE requires parties to make deposits of copyrightable materials with its information and culture ministry (Fitzgerald and Olwan 570). Safeguarding strategies are also provided to ensure protection of all works against unauthorised translations.

The UAE copyright law makes provisions of validity of the copyrights. For cinematographic works, this duration is 50 years since their creation. For other works, the duration covers the lifetime of the creator in addition to 50 years that are counted from the date of death of the creator (Fitzgerald and Olwan 573). However, the law grants public libraries, education centres, scientific-based organisations, and cultural-based organisations the right to reproduce copyrighted materials through photocopying. Nevertheless, the number of copies should not exceed 50. The reproduction should mainly serve the interest of authorised persons and/or uphold the stakes of original work creators. Breach of these provisions attracts imprisonment or a penalty of a maximum of 50,000 and a minimum of 10,000 Dirhams (Fitzgerald and Olwan 574) as provided for in article 37. Publishers who contravene the directions given by authors through intentional omissions, unauthenticated alterations, and/or additions are subject to punishment by way of imprisonment or fines of 10,000 Dirhams or more.

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Copyright Legislation on the Internet

The 2002 copyright law as discussed in the previous section does not factor adequately the threats of to intellectual property of both the foreigners and citizens of the UAE within the nation. This replicates the challenges encountered by various other international pacts on IP. The challenges prompted a review of pacts in an effort to introduce new laws that were aimed at curbing the emerging technological threats to IP. In article 37, the UAE copyright legislation of 2002 mentions the word ‘internet’ only when making provisions for infringement of financial and moral rights for authors and/or person who are conferred copyright rights. The law prevents people from engaging in any act that prejudices the rights of such individuals by engaging in activities that amount to breach of the provisions of article 7 through 19 such as modifying, duplicating, downloading, transmitting, and re-broadcasting materials that are available over the internet and or any other communication networks (Fitzgerald and Olwan 579).

International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) supports the claim on the inexistence of adequate legal frameworks in the UAE guarding erosion of copyrights in a digitised economy (280). The organisation cites the emerging internet-based malpractices such as violation of TPMs and piracy as major copyright challenges that ail the UAE. It maintains that these malpractices have significantly grown following the relaxation of MOE (Ministry of Economy) in terms of offering instructions to the TRA in relation to enforcing legal actions against various internet-based sites that target the UAE market (IIPA 280). However, amid this concern, copyright legal frameworks in the UAE are sound despite the call by MOE for the government to enhance modernisation of the law before it can successfully resume its copyright enforcement via TRA. The concern of MOE entails ensuring the availability of infringement laws that are specifically adapted for utilisation in the protection of copyrights in an online environment.

Infringement in the Traditional Context

Similar to other copyright laws that are adopted by different nations, the UAE copyright laws make provisions for infringements. They also provide remedies to the infringement. In the traditional context, judges select experts who determine and evaluate possibilities of occurrence of infringements. However, the courts reserve the power for making decisions on any case that is presented before them about infringement of copyrights (Fitzgerald and Olwan 574).

Article 34 or 41 makes provisions for enforcement of infringement. The articles provide the holder of the copyright “or their successors with various remedies against infringers including, precautionary measures, administrative sanctions, civil redress, and criminal penalties” (574). Article 34 accords the right of requesting a court to consider precautionary interventions for possible copyright infringements.

Out of their own discretion or following directions from the real owner of a copyright, custom authorities can give an order for counterfeited products to be suspended from being released into the market for a maximum of 20 days (Fitzgerald and Olwan 574). Remedies to infringements, as provided for in article 37, include fines, imprisonment, or both. For instance, in the absence of prejudicing other the UAE laws, penalties for copyright infringements range from 12,700 to 13, 600 USD, two-month jail term, or both.

Infringement in the Context of the Internet

While copyright law no.7 of 2002 provided effective remedies for infringement of related copyrights, in an internet-enhanced approach for information sharing, internet-based piracy constitutes a leading way of infringing copyrights in the UAE. International Intellectual Property Alliance supports this notion by claiming that significant numbers of people in the UAE now use internet-enabled phones to access internet, thus amplifying possibilities of infringement of copyrights that are provided for in article 37 (281-282). High penetration of broadband has also increased the number of people with internet access to various materials that are available in an online environment. However, International Intellectual Property Alliance reveals that the government has not commensurately responded to this increase by putting in place stricter or better laws to handle internet-based infringement to copyright (282).

The implication of the above observation is that lack of laws that specifically focus on internet-based infringement of copyright leads to increased unauthorised access to information that is contained in websites and other means of holding information over the internet. In fact, International Intellectual Property Alliance puts the UAE in the second position in internet-based copyright offending (282). In 2010, while principally depending on the existing laws against copyright infringement, TRA took legal actions against infringers for more than 100 websites. The situation led to the launching of six copyright criminal infringement cases (282). Nevertheless, more laws to curb internet-based copyright infringement are required in the UAE.

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The need for protection of intellectual property finds recognition at both national and international levels. The desertion paper has revealed that this cognition leads to the establishment of several international treaties and conventions for protecting IP. Under the treaties, member states are also required to establish various laws that are consistent with the international treaties on IP protection. For this reason, the UAE altered its copyright laws and promulgated the changes under federal law no.7 in 2002. While such laws have been effective in the protection of copyright against infringement, the desertion has held that updating of the laws in an effort to ensure adequate protection of copyright in an online environment is necessary.


Fitzgerald, Brian, and Rami Olwan. “Copyright Law in the United Arab Emirates in the Digital Age.” European Intellectual Property Review 32.11(2010): 565-574. Print.

International Intellectual Property Alliance. Special 301 Report on Copyright Protection and Enforcement, 2013. Web.

Trimble, Marketa, and Paul Goldstein. International Intellectual Property Law, Cases and Materials. New York, NY: Foundation Press, 2012. Print.