The UAE Ministry of Economy has announced a substantial increase in official fees for the registration of intellectual property rights at the Trade Mark, Patent and Copyright Offices in the UAE.

These increases in official fees are across the board, in that they apply to trade marks, patents, designs and copyright. However, they are likely to be particularly keenly felt by brand owners seeking to protect their rights in the UAE.

The official fees charged by the UAE Trade Mark Office are already possibly the highest of any national trade mark office globally, and these are now set to double. Currently, the official fees charged by the UAE Trade Mark Office for the registration of a trade mark are AED 6,000, which is equivalent to approximately USD 1,650. These fees are now set to increase to AED 12,000 (equivalent to approximately USD 3,300).

These fees are in addition to newspaper publication charges and to legalisation charges for Powers of Attorney, which are incurred by overseas applications and which typically amount to around USD 1,000.

These charges are, of course, separate from trade mark agents’ fees which, ironically, have remained largely static in the UAE over the past 10 years.

Timing of increase

The increase in official fees is due to come into effect on 29 May 2015.

This increase was announced in UAE Cabinet Decision No. 9 of 2015, which sets out rate increases for a wide range of services provided by the UAE Ministry of Economy. These rate increases are not limited to the protection of intellectual property rights, and they cover charges for matters such as establishing companies in the UAE and registering commercial agency agreements.

Existing applications

The provisions of UAE Cabinet Decision No. 9 of 2015 do not make any provision for applications which have already been filed by the UAE Trade Mark, Patent and Copyright Offices. Accordingly, our expectation is that the increase will apply to any fees which fall due on or after 29 May 2015.

Accordingly, for an existing trade mark application which has already been filed, a registration fee of AED 5,000 (USD 1,360) will apply if this fee is paid prior to 29 May 2015, whereas a fee of AED 10,000 (USD 2,720) will apply if this fee is paid on or after 29 May.

As a result, there may be an immediate rush to push forward with existing applications so that they can be completed before these rate increases apply. Also, where applications cannot be completed before 29 May 2015, applicants may choose to allow their applications to lapse rather than face these increased charges.

Details of increases

The following table sets out a selection of the increases announced by the UAE Trade Mark Office:

Click here to view table.

In addition, by way of example for the UAE Patent Office, the filing fee for a patent application filed by a business is to increase by over 250% from AED 790 (USD 220) to AED 2,000 (USD 560). Also, for the UAE Copyright Office, the recordal fee for an application filed by a business is to increase tenfold from AED 30 (USD 8) to AED 300 (USD 85).

Comment

With the official fees which apply in the UAE already very high, these increases will undoubtedly lead to a fall off in application numbers.

What remains to be seen is the overall impact of these increases on IP-owning businesses in the UAE. With registered rights playing a key role in the IP lifecycle, the question is what effect the higher cost of obtaining registered rights will have on the creation, commercialisation and protection of IP rights in the UAE.