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German Legal Expertise in the Middle East since 1981

Trademark Protection at Dubai Customs

Guiding Principle

Taking action against trademark infringements through Dubai Customs is an additional option for trademark owners to fight violations of their intellectual property rights. The additional registration  procedure at Dubai Customs should be taken into consideration as it is evident that most of the infringing goods are not produced within the UAE, but are imported. Dubai Customs may stop infringing products before entering the country.

A. Intellectual Property Rights at Dubai Customs

It is significant that shipments are checked at ports, airports and free zones in order to prevent counterfeited goods from entering the UAE. Therefore and since 2006 Dubai Customs is operating a special section for intellectual property rights.

There are two main scenarios in which a complaint to Dubai Customs regarding suspected infringing goods may arise:

  1. Dubai Customs discovers suspected infringing products in the course of its regular inspections.
  2. The trademark owner discovers a suspect shipment or suspect goods and notifies Dubai Customs.

I. Registering a Trademark at Dubai Customs

With reference to the first scenario the Intellectual Property Right Department at Dubai Customs recently invited trademark owners in the UAE publically to register their trademarks at Dubai Customs. The registration procedure aims to facilitate trademark protection in Dubai. However, it does not replace an initial trademark registration at an official trademark department. By additionally registering a trademark at Dubai Customs the trademark owner enables the customs authorities to detect counterfeited trademarks more quickly, as all trademark-related data is filed and archived. Accordingly, Dubai Customs can intervene at the first entry of goods heading to Dubai, making the intellectual property right protection more efficient. The trademark registration system is linked to all customs centers. This enables that the Customs Inspection Section can identify the owner of the trademark immediately, eliminating the need to refer to him.

In order to register a trademark at Dubai Customs a copy of the valid trademark registration certificate must be provided and administrative fees must be paid. Registrations can be performed by trademark owners or authorized legal representatives in the UAE. Any representative must first register with the Ministry of Economy and submit a duly authenticated and translated power of attorney.

II. Trademark Owner may take Initiative

The second scenario shows that trademark owners or their representatives may also file report infringements of a trademark to Dubai Customs. In order to file a complaint it is not necessary to have the trademark registered at Dubai Customs. Nevertheless, a registration will facilitate the filing procedure.

B. Dubai Customs’ Procedure

In both cases a formal written complaint of the trademark owner (or his representative) is required before Dubai Customs may become active. Typically, the procedure following the filing of a complaint is that Dubai Customs takes a sample of the suspect goods from the shipping consignment or from the free zone location where it has been discovered and submits the sample to an official laboratory for testing and determination whether the product is genuine. In case the laboratory confirms that the item is not authentic, Dubai Customs will confiscate the suspect goods. After confiscation the goods will be destroyed.

C. Effects

This procedure was established in order to protect both the consumers as well as the trademark owners by safeguarding that standard specifications are met and by maintaining the legitimate trade movement through protecting trademark owners’ rights.

Dubai Customs informed that lately a large amount of confiscated fake and restricted goods were destroyed. The destroyed goods included fake products with duplicated trademark such as ties, glasses, glasses boxes, perfumes, mobile phones accessories, pens, balls, cars spare parts and electronics, auto electrical chargers, screwdrivers, printers requisites. In addition, a large number of CDs – especially software – and some medicine were destroyed.

December, 2015 Tarek Jairwdeh
Meyer-Reumann & Partners, Dubai Office
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