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Trademark Infringement Penalties in UAE

UAE Intellectual Property (IP) and Trademark regulations allow businesses and individuals in protecting logos, names, and all other commercial signifiers which are used in identifying unique products and services. Even though there's no requirement for trademark registration in UAE with the Ministry of Economy, doing so provides myriads of advantages. 

This includes providing the public with a legal notice regarding trademark ownership, presumption of trademark or IP ownership nationwide, as well as gaining the exclusive rights in using the intellectual property in connection with products and/or services which are listed in the trademark or IP registration. 


What are the penalties for trademark infringement in UAE?

All those that are caught to be infringing on the rights of trademark owners in UAE will be sanctioned with the appropriate administrative fines and penalties. Trademark infringement in UAE is considered a violation of the exclusive rights that are attached to trademarks without authorization or consent from the trademark holders or owners. An infringement occurs when a party, referred to as the infringing party or the infringer, utilizes a mark that's confusingly similar or identical to a mark that's already owned by a different party. 

According to IP and trademarks legislation in UAE, punishment for anyone responsible in infringing trademark rights in UAE include:

  • Fine of at least AED 5,000; and 
  • Imprisonment 

The local legislation applies the same punishment to companies and individuals that offer, hold, or sell with the intention of selling products or services with infringed trademarks. One must note, however, that

Trademark infringement in UAE consists of two different aspects: 

  • Intent of the infringing party; and 
  • psychical, which takes place with the offering, holding, or selling with intent on selling products or services that infringe a trademark owner's rights

Note: there's criminal liability for an infringing party based on the different provisions in UAE trademark legislation. Criminal liability for a misdemeanor is up to five years starting from the date of ceasing infringement acts.

Criminal complaint may be filed by trademark holders or owners, or the authorized representatives, in initiating enforcement actions. Thereafter, a public prosecutor will be progressing the case before the court.

Also Read: Legal facts about Dubai’s Trademark Ownership

Where can a case be filed to enforce trademark rights in UAE?

An infringement complaint case can be filed with the Ministry of Economy in UAE, particularly the Economic Department. Local Customs Authorities and before the Civil Court in UAE can also accept trademark infringement filings. In some occasions where infringement of trademark rights is obvious, the criminal route and police action will also be made available. In general, the criminal route will only be available for counterfeiting cases.

What are involved with the pre-trial procedural stages in UAE?

A complaint for infringing trademarks can be filed with the different law enforcement authorities mentioned earlier. With the civil law system, a jury trial isn't applicable within the UAE. But, trial hearings, also commonly referred to as court hearings, which are before judges, will occur. They are available for a party to present a claim or defense. 

For civil actions, managerial or magistrate stages receive and review submissions of parties, complete summons and service for defendants, set up the case file together with submitted dockets, then transfer the same onto a civil court judge. Such process takes at least one month depending on notification and service for summons competition. 

For criminal proceedings, they take up to six months to complete an investigation, sessions with public prosecution office, laboratory assessment, and administrative transfer for the file prior to proceeding to the trial stage. No hearing or trial before a judiciary authority will be available with administrative actions. Law enforcement agencies such as the Economic Department of the Ministry of Economy in UAE and the Customs Authority, issue their decisions and execute administratively without having to refer the decision to the court.

You should know: Top Ways to Protect and Enforce Your Trademark in UAE

What should I do upon the discovery of infringing acts?

When you find your trademark is used by unauthorized companies or individuals, filing a lawsuit immediately isn't typically the most sensible step to take. A lawsuit is very expensive. It's also going to involve lengthy legal proceedings which will take a huge amount of time and money. Most business owners think lawsuits should also be put into the table when infringing parties refuse in ceasing operations even upon being notified regarding their alleged infringing acts. 

A more efficient step to take when you find someone or a company infringing on your trademark rights in UAE is talking to a seasoned trademark specialist in UAE like Farahat & Co. The firm will create a cease-and-desist letter. The demand letter will be addressed to an infringing party, clearly expressing infringement acts that were found.

To know more on what to do when being involved in a trademark infringement case in UAE, call us here in Farahat & Co today! 

Shahnaz Kaushar is a senior Trademark and Intellectual Property (IP) Expert. She has handled some of the firm’s complex, high-profile cases – many involving the protection of trademark and IP rights.