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Brands in UAE Should Protect Their IPR Within the Burgeoning e-Commerce Marketplace

Abdulla Alawadi & Associates, a 23-year-old UAE law firm, stressed the importance of establishing and preserving a brand’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to prevent the loss of revenues and eventually traffic to its e-Commerce platforms. Within the increasingly competitive and crowded e-Commerce marketplace, any unscrupulous vendor can misuse the brand, logo, company name, or trade secrets. Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce.

By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to create an ecosystem in which creativity and innovation can flourish. IP is protected in law through patents, copyright, and trademarks, which enable the individual or a firm to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. According to reports, IP theft has cost the United States alone US$225 billion to US$600 billion a year.

“As the e-Commerce space in the UAE is on an exponential growth path, it is important to raise awareness within the corporate world in the UAE. Budding entrepreneurs who spend hours building and nurture an innovative idea can end up losing it to some other person or a company just because the IP rights are not legally registered. The awareness in this space is absolutely critical and is needed to protect the future of this thriving ecosystem,” stated Adv. Abdulla Alawadi, Founder and Chairman of the law firm.

“Our law firm has taken this sector quite seriously and our IP practice works closely with clients from a wide range of industries to help them understand, establish, and protect IPR. This can be a matter of critical business security, especially for brand preservation or differentiation, a tool for business expansion, or an asset when entering into new commercial partnerships,” added Adv. Abdulla Alawadi.

According to Statista, an online tracker of the global economy and retail sector, the GCC e-commerce market was estimated to be around AED 72.29 billion in 2020. Saudi Arabia was the largest market with AED30.46 billion followed by the UAE with AED 27 billion.

“When a dispute or potential IP infringement occurs, the impacted brand then needs to consider a range of dispute resolution techniques to enable the clients enforcing their rights to the fullest extent necessary. For instance, in such situations, as a law firm, we will have to work with governmental agencies to bring civil and criminal enforcement actions against counterfeiters who have misappropriated IP from the rightful owners,” stated Bahjat Abou Zeyd, Senior Associate, Corporate, Abdulla Alawadi & Associates.

“It is also important for brands to shield their IP rights and to strategically leverage their assets to their full advantage. By neglecting external IP risks, companies can often be faced with high costs for avoiding the infringement of third parties’ IPRs, be it through litigation or licensing. Under these situations, a brand can even be held liable for IP problems that arise through its contractual partners, such as their suppliers or vendors,” added Bahjat.

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