Dealing with IP licence disputes in UAE
What should parties to IP licences in the United Arab Emirates do?


In any IP licence agreement, disputes can arise for a number of reasons. For example:

  • a disagreement between a licensor and a licensee over the scope of a licence;
  • payments not being made to the licensor by the licensee; or
  • non-compliance by the licensor with certain terms of the agreement.

To deal with such disputes, it is recommended that parties to IP licence agreements include a dispute resolution clause in the contract.

It is quite common for parties to IP licence agreements covering the Middle East region to agree to resolve disputes by arbitration. This article discusses how arbitration procedures in the United Arab Emirates may change in the near future and what impact this may have on parties to IP licence agreements.

Dealing with IP licence disputes in UAE

Arbitration in accordance with the Dubai International Financial Centre and the London Court of International Arbitration (DIFC-LCIA) rules has typically been a popular choice for the dispute resolution clause in IP licence agreements, particularly those covering the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and surrounding Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

The government of Dubai recently introduced new legislation that could have a significant impact on such clauses.(1) The introduction of Decree No. 34 of 2021 is intended to channel all arbitrations into a new Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC), which likely means that the DIFC-LCIA will be abolished.

It remains to be seen what transitional arrangements will be implemented. It is understood that parties will be free to choose either the DIAC headquarters in Dubai or the branch of the DIAC in the Dubai International Financial Centre financial free zone as the seat of the arbitration agreement in IP licensing agreements moving forwards.

What should parties to IP licences in the United Arab Emirates do?

Considering this legislative development, it is recommended that existing IP-related commercial agreements and trademark licences be checked to see whether the jurisdiction for disputes was granted to the DIFC-LCIA. If so, the arbitration provisions may need to be updated as there are other suitable arbitration institutions in the Middle East region that could be selected to administer any future disputes arising from the existing agreements.

It is important to ensure any updates to the arbitration provisions in an existing IP licence agreement comply with any variation/amendment clauses in the agreement and are properly documented in writing. An authorised representative from each party to the existing IP licence agreement must sign to acknowledge their acceptance of the updated arbitration provision.

For further information on this topic please contact Melissa Murray or Eddie Chiu at Bird & Bird by telephone (+971 26108 100) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Bird & Bird website can be accessed at


(1) For further information, please see "Decree No. 34 of 2021 – Another step forward for arbitration in Dubai".