Intellectual property rights are protected in the UAE through a set of federal laws. While intellectual property consists of a broad-spectrum of rights, including trademarks, copyright, patents, designs, geographical indication, utility, etc., in this article, we are focusing on the law surrounding patents.
The law regulating patents in the UAE is the Federal Law No 11 of 2021 (Patents Law). It repealed the previously existing law on patents, called the Federal Law No. 17 of 2002.
Conditions for Being Granted a Patent
Several conditions have to be satisfied before a patent is granted. These conditions, as explained in Article 5 of the Patents Law, are briefly set out below.
It should be a new invention. Invention means a creative idea in a technical field related to a product or a method of manufacturing which should solve a particular problem in that field. An invention would be treated as “new” if there is no previous technology which has made the invention known to the public before application has been made for the patent. However, there would be no adverse impact if a disclosure regarding this has been made to a third party within 12 months from the date of application.
The new invention should result from an innovative idea or improvement that has: (a) a creative step; and (b) an industrially applicable step. An invention would be treated to have a creative step if it is not clear in the opinion of an average professional. An invention has an industrially applicable step if it is possible to produce or use it in any sector.
Are There Any Cases for Which Patent Will Not be Granted?
Yes. Under Article 7 of the Patents Law, a patent will not be granted for some cases, including any of the following:
Plant or animal species.
Biological methods of animal or plant production.
Treatment of humans and animals through diagnostic, treatment and surgical methods.
Scientific principles, theories, discoveries and mathematical methods.
Inventions resulting in breach of morality, public order or which causes harm to human life, health or the environment.
Purely mental activities or playing games.
Natural materials, even if purified or isolated from nature, but excludes the method of isolation or purification.
Rules, plans or modalities for conducting business.
How to Apply for a Patent?
In accordance with Article 11, the application for obtaining a patent is to be filed with the Ministry of Economy, along with relevant details of the applicant, abstract and description of the patent, elements of protection and the fees. All applications and attachments have to be filed in Arabic and English.
The application will be examined by the Ministry under Article 13. Additional documents or information may also be requested from the inventor. If the conditions for grant of patent are satisfied, the applicant will be awarded the patent certificate, as published in the IP circular, provided no objections or grievances have been filed related to this patent under Article 17.
Period of Protection
The patent is protected for a period of 20 years from the date of filing the application (Article 18). Annual fees would have to be paid during the duration of protection.
What Rights are Granted on Award of a Patent?
A patent holder will be granted the right to exploit the invention under Article 19 of the Patents Law.
If the patent is a product, the patent holder has the right to manufacture, use, offer for sale, sell or import the patent, including the right to prevent third parties from doing any of the above activities without his permission.
If the patent is an industrial process or a method of manufacturing, the patent holder will have the right to use the process or method as well as the rights set out above in respect of the products directly obtained from the use of such process or method.