Dubai International Financial Centre drafts intellectual property rules

The financial free zone is consulting on procedures for inspections, investigations and handling complaints

The gate building at Dubai International Financial Centre. The DIFC Authority is seeking comment on proposed new intellectual property regulations by May 9. Image courtesy of Dubai International Financial Centre.
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Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Authority issued a consultation paper on plans to introduce new intellectual property regulations.

"The proposed regulations reflect the centre’s commitment to maintaining a transparent and robust legal and regulatory framework aligned with global best practice," the DIFC Authority said in a statement.

The authority passed an intellectual property law (No. 4) in 2019 regulating intellectual property rights in the DIFC. The law included provisions for the creation of a Commissioner of Intellectual Property responsible for enforcing the law, which covers patents, utility certificates, industrial designs and drawings, copyright, trademarks, trade names and trade secrets.

The proposed new rules "set out the process and requirements for filing a complaint with the commissioner", and procedures for inspections and investigations in response to complaints. The rules governing inspection give the commissioner the right to seize any items deemed to be infringing intellectual property, "as well as any machines, materials, tools and equipment used in the infringement".

Under the regulations, a register of experts will be established that can be relied upon during investigations. The proposals also set out costs and fees that will be incurred during complaints and directions for the IP commissioner to refer cases to the DIFC Courts.

The consultation paper also points out that enforcement of the intellectual property law will require cooperation with the UAE federal and local authorities already responsible for enforcing intellectual property.

The consultation paper and the proposed legislation can be found here. The deadline for comments is May 9.

There are currently more than 2,900 active registered DIFC companies employing almost 27,000 professionals. The DIFC said last month that it achieved an operating profit of $125 million in 2020, which it described as "broadly consistent with the prior year despite global economic headwinds".