United Arab Emirates - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property

Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.

Last published date: 2022-07-26

In 2018, the UAE was placed on the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 Report as a Watch List country for failing to provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). After making important improvements to its IPR protection and enforcement regime UAE was removed from the Special 301 Report in April 2021. The UAE continued to enhance their IPR regime in 2021 by passing three pieces of legislation to update their patent, trademark, copyright, industrial design and trade secret protections and enforcement mechanisms. In December 2021 the UAE joined the Madrid Protocol, a seminal international trademark treaty that lowers burdens for obtaining trademark rights in multiple countries.

IPR Enforcement

Enforcement of IPR takes place generally at the emirate-level (i.e., state level). However, a more coordinated approach would be helpful between emirates and customs authorities to control the transshipment of counterfeit goods, especially in the Free Trade Zones in the UAE. In Dubai, for example, the Dubai Police, Dubai Customs, and the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) share the power to search for and seize counterfeit products. Dubai Customs has authority to do so at the emirate’s borders and in free trade zones, while Dubai Police’s and DED’s authority only applies to in-market and non-free trade zone areas. Each emirate works with individual stakeholders regarding counterfeits of its brands.


Copyrights are protected under UAE Federal Law. The UAE is also a member of several WIPO-administered Treaties, including the Berne Convention, the Rome Convention, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. In March 2022, the UAE launched the first collective management (CMO) entity in the Gulf region to allow copyright licensing and collecting royalty payments for literary rights, but has yet to license a CMO for musical rights, reflecting a longstanding concern from U.S


Before January 2021, patent protection in UAE could have been achieved by filing a national UAE patent application with the UAE patent office, through the Patent Cooperation Treaty system or by filing patent application with the regional Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Patent Office in Riyadh. In early January 2021, the GCC Patent Office stopped accepting new patent applications as the regional system undergoes legislative reform.
Pharmaceutical Products:  In September 2020, UAE resolved long standing concerns related to protecting IPR for pharmaceutical products by passing Decree 321. Decree 321 provides effective protection against unfair commercial use, as well as unauthorized disclosure, of undisclosed test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical products.

In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources

For additional information about Intellectual Property matters please contact the U.S. Commercial Service UAE team at Office.AbuDhabi@trade.gov.