The Ministry of Economy in the United Arab Emirates has published a list of official fee increases including for patent, trademark, design and copyright matters. The increases were made by ministerial decision no. 9 of 2015 which appeared in the official gazette dated 31 March 2015. The increases come into effect 60 days after publication – namely, on 29 May 2015.

Here is a sample of some of the fee increases for trademark matters (out of the 175 fee increases listed in the schedule to the decision):

Click here to view the table.

One of the questions not answered by the ministerial decision is how the new fees will apply to pending trademark applications. The likelihood is that any fee payments made after 29 May will be according to the new fee regime – that would be the simplest way of implementing the changes. Applicants will need to adjust their budget for the applications they have already filed. For example, if an applicant has filed one mark in three classes – that is three applications – they will face an additional 1500 dirhams/409 USD in official publication fees and an additional 15000 dirhams/4089 USD in registration fees.

The size of the fee increases will no doubt take many by surprise and questions will be asked about their purpose. They may have been intended to raise additional revenue for the UAE government, but if there is a decrease in the number of applications being filed as a result of the fee increases, revenue may actually decrease. The Ministry may be taking a gamble that the desire for IP registration in the UAE is greater than the deterrent effect of the high costs (possibly now the highest in the world). The effect on the UAE national population will be minimal because the IP registration system is used mainly by foreign businesses. The extraordinary fee increases in relation to oppositions and appeals do seem to be designed to reduce the number of such cases being filed thereby reducing the Ministry workload and staff costs. Such drastic fee increases are at odds with the much publicised local initiatives to encourage entrepreneurs and inventors (in this Year of Innovation) as well as small and medium sized businesses.

We will continue to monitor and report on developments and will publish shortly a full list of fee increases for intellectual property matters.