Tips for Protecting Your Intellectual Property
Unfortunately, right when they’re starting their venture, many start-up owners and entrepreneurs tend to overlook the importance of protecting their intellectual property (IP). Software, designs, patents, and even logos are some of the most crucial IP for a new business. Without adequate safeguards in place, start-ups are susceptible to misappropriation of their IP, but there are ways entrepreneurs can protect themselves from the get-go.
Trademark is an umbrella term that includes anything that identifies a company and its products. Some common examples of trademarks include logos, slogans, names, and symbols. Unlike some other types of IP, trademarks must be registered in every country where businesses intend to operate.
When registering a trademark, start-up owners must consider various cross-border trademark protection laws (such as cross-EU trademark protection) that can help them keep their trademarks safe across different countries in the same region with a one-time registration process. In the UAE, trademark registrations are valid for ten years and can be renewed after their expiration date.
Copyright laws in the UAE are designed to protect recorded work, such as artistic performance, music, and even software codes, against illegal use and infringement. Copyright protection is automatically granted as soon as the work is created, so registration is not required – just add the symbol “©” at the end of the copyrighted material to protect this IP. However, for peace of mind, most business lawyers in Dubai recommend that companies register their copyright with the Ministry of Economy. Copyright protection in the UAE normally lasts for the lifetime of the copyright creator, plus 50 years after their death.
Patents include technical products, secret formulas, and processes, and patent protection is designed to prevent other companies from selling, reproducing, or copying a company’s unique innovation. In most countries, patent protection lasts for up to 20 years. However, registering a patent can be an arduous task without the help of a dedicated intellectual property law firm in Dubai.
Startups that create products with unique shapes or packaging have a right to claim ownership of those designs. Similar to trademarks, designs can be protected for a period of 20 years in some jurisdictions, and business owners have to apply for design protection in every region they intend to operate. In the event of a breach of design, the burden of proof will be on the complainant (i.e., the business that claims its design has been used without its express approval). Additionally, design protection laws vary across countries and regions, so it’s critical to consult with an intellectual property law firm in Dubai to discuss how best to protect this IP.
For example, in the UAE, industrial designs must be representable through lines, colors, or a combination of both and can have a 3D form. Furthermore, all industrial designs must be registered with the applicable UAE governmental ministry.
IP in DIFC
In 2019, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) introduced new laws relating to intellectual property and creative work. These laws are designed to strengthen the protection around innovative work and keep infringements and violations at bay.
When registering a trademark, patent, copyright, or industrial design in the UAE, a knowledgeable and experienced intellectual property law firm in Dubai can help you navigate the process and documentation as well as help ensure successful registration and full protection for your IP.
Whether you are a startup or an established corporation, working with an intellectual property law firm in Dubai can protect your business’s most valuable asset – its IP. Call +971 4 329 8880 or email [email protected] for more information.