Recently, Federal Law number 11 of 2021 on Regulation and Protection of Industrial Property Rights was implemented and it introduced numerous changes in the patent, utility model and design regimes in the UAE, some of which are very significant.
- Introduction of a novelty grace period of twelve months from the filing date, for patents, utility models and designs, for disclosures of information by the inventor or others obtaining information directly from the inventors
- Substantive examination (novelty examination) to be introduced for designs;
- Introduction of a procedure for expediting examination for patents and utility models;
- Introduction of provisions for filing of divisional applications for patents and utility models
- Extension of term of design protection from 10 years to 20 years;
- Confirms that the Executive Regulations shall define requirements for procedures for examination, publication, annuities, restoration, grievances, etc.;
- Establishes a Grievance and Objections Committee to hear requests for re-examination (by a third party) and grievances relating to registration of a patent, utility model and design Infringement actions appear to be referred directly to court;
- UAE Patent Office will act as a receiving office for international applications in accordance with the procedures to be set out in the Executive Regulations;
- Makes important changes to the rights of employee inventors and employers
In 2014, the UAE introduced its National Innovation Strategy with the aim of making the country one of the world’s most innovative within seven years. The strategy identifies education, health care, technology, transportation, renewable energy, space and water as the main priority sectors.
The UAE expects a 20 per cent increase in the number of patent applications in 2022, governed by a new industrial property law to attract more foreign investments to priority sectors and make it easier for start-ups to operate.
The Ministry of Economy received 2,428 patent applications in 2021 and 1,917 requests in 2020. These applications were mainly from sectors including machinery, construction, chemical engineering, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, electricity, metals, and information and communication technology, the ministry stated. This new law introduces extensive legal reforms announced in November 2021.
In the words of Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, the UAE will grow by accelerating the transformation towards a new, more flexible and sustainable knowledge-based economic model that makes progress, same as the latest economic trends in which innovation, technology, research and development, national competencies, investors, talent and entrepreneurs are the key drivers of progress.
The number of patent filings is one of the ways, used to give a display of the level of innovation in a country, that can be seen, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo).
Wipo placed the UAE at the top among Arab nations for the sixth consecutive year, due to its infrastructure, business sophistication, human capital and research and market sophistication.
The UAE’s new industrial property and patents law will benefit individual investors, universities or academic institutions that administer the development of inventions by their students, companies with inventions or R&D centres, innovative entrepreneurs, small and medium businesses and start-ups, the information and technology sector and tech companies.
The Ministry of Economy reduced the direct cost of applying for patents from Dh7,500 to Dh1,000 for students, Dh3,500 for entrepreneurs and Dh5,000 for large companies, making it a more accessible, cheaper and faster process for a range of applicants.
The new legislation introduces fundamental amendments to the previous industrial property law to improve the intellectual property and patent environment in the country. With the help of the new law, the ministry intends to reduce the time taken for patent examinations to six months, from 42 months as per previous provisions.
The new law now protects industrial property rights by adding rights that were not previously included in the legislation. The new law will also add several new procedures for flexibility in managing and examining applications.
The law includes a fast-track for patent applications and also conversion of patent applications to utility certificates and vice versa. Thirdly, it will be possible to divide patent applications, utility certificates and industrial design into several categories to allow protection of the invention in the various stages of its development, the ministry said.
The new law will create a more competitive environment for investment in areas concerning innovation and invention, and support the country’s industrial development goals. It will also make the UAE more attractive as a destination for innovative companies and improve the country’s ranking in relevant indicators such as the Global Innovation Index.