United Arab Emirates

Gulf Cooperation Council countries are experiencing a period of sluggish economic growth due to the low price of oil. However, trademark activity appears largely unaffected in the region and the United Arab Emirates remains a market in which many international brand owners see huge potential. Companies in the Middle East requiring strategic advice and resolute trademark protection can turn to the country’s mix of local and international law firms. The options open to rights holders are becoming increasingly diverse; Simmons & Simmons, Bird & Bird, Bone-Knell Symons and Gowling WLG have all entered the WTR 1000 UAE section since the 2016 edition.

Firms

Highly recommended
98
Al Tamimi & Company
Cedar White Bradley
Clyde & Co LLP
Rouse & Co International
Recommended
H
Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property
Bird & Bird
Bone-Knell Symons Intellectual Property
Saba & Co Intellectual Property
Simmons & Simmons LLP
Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property
“To have a reliable contact like Abu-Ghazaleh in the Middle East is invaluable. The firm makes navigating the waters of intellectual property in the region so much easier.” A prosecution and filing dynamo, the outfit has over 40 years of solid experience to call upon and, with 29 offices scattered around the world, it can offer a truly international service. Dubai-based Amjad El-Husseini is a leader within the firm.
Al Tamimi & Company
“Al Tamimi easily outperforms other IP firms in the Middle East. The team is prompt, insightful and business conscious. It goes beyond cookie-cutter responses to provide practical and effective solutions, particularly in the fields of trademark prosecution and enforcement.” IP practice chief Omar Obeidat leads the charge, ensuring that his team delivers impeccable results across the board. Peers appreciate that “while Omar practices in an expensive part of the world, the efficiency and value of his advice is a welcome offset to the high cost of doing business there”. Possessing a granular knowledge of competition, consumer protection and compliance issues, alongside trademarks, he is “well known for his insights on IP enforcement in the United Arab Emirates”. A star-studded collection of international clients seek his counsel: lately Obeidat has been representing Caterpillar on extensive trademark prosecution matters throughout the Middle East, while also enforcing the Christian Louboutin brand, heading and supervising a number of raids of retail outlets and warehouses in seamless coordination with the authorities. He also works tirelessly to bring about legislative change to the region as secretary general of the Dubai Intellectual Property Advisory Board.
Bird & Bird
The team at Bird & Bird in Dubai is known for the distinctly business-oriented approach it takes to IP law. The set focuses in particular on licensing, franchising and other commercial agreements, sagaciously counselling clients on how to extract the most value out of their intellectual property. Thanks to its internal systems, which utilise the latest technologies, it also makes global portfolio management a cinch, and, when urgent problems arise, brand owners can always count on the team for holistic support. “Bird & Bird has solutions for everything. It’s innovative and responds in a timely manner.” Melissa Murray heads up the Middle East commercial and IP practice and is a key contact.
Bone-Knell Symons Intellectual Property
Navigating the UAE IP minefield can be tricky at the best of times, but Bone-Knell Symons makes local brand management painless. “Its one-stop-shop business model for matters across the Gulf Cooperation Council territories is a major attraction. What sets Bone-Knell Symons apart from similar law firms in the area is its responsiveness, commercial approach and reasonable costs.” Co-founders Kate Symons and Mark Bone-Knell continue to attract instructions with their exhaustive experience. “Kate is known for her quick turnaround time, meticulousness and tenacity.” “Mark is a leading IP practitioner and a real gentleman to collaborate with. He has great industry experience and is an authority on difficult procedural matters.” Having joined the team in May 2016 from UK-based Gill Jennings & Every, Mark Devaney has developed a flourishing practice in double-quick time, “handling Middle Eastern work in a refreshing way. He get things done, and alleviates clients’ frustrations in a way that other lawyers can’t”.
Cedar White Bradley
“Cedar White Bradley has done well over the past year. The firm has grown quickly and is very strong in prosecution. It has excellent expertise on the marketing side, too.” With a client list that is the envy of its competitors, it excels at managing multinational portfolios in the Middle East and North Africa. Due to increasing demand, the set bolstered its contentious offering in 2016, forming an association with Khalid A Altamimi Advocates & Legal Consultants, whose professionals have rights of audience before the UAE courts. Chief executive Halim Shehadeh has a wealth of first-hand experience and offers judicious counsel on trademark enforcement and filing strategy. “He is an invaluable adviser with sound business acumen and a pragmatic approach. Halim routinely provides great insight and astute legal guidance in a holistic manner.” After a stint running his own practice and as head of the Middle Eastern IP practice for Hogan Lovells, Peter Hansen has rejoined the firm as chair of litigation. He is an outstanding professional who has a rare combination of western training, local know-how and an ability to communicate perfectly in both English and Arabic. David Harper spearheads the substantial IP advisory practice. He regularly surpasses expectations and as one respondent remarked “you underestimate him at your peril”.
Clyde & Co LLP
“Known for its comprehensive practice in the region, Clyde & Co has set benchmarks for other firms to strive towards. Its pedigree and reputation are unquestionable. It excels at everything it takes on.” The firm has opened new filing offices in Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait – this new regional coverage is perfect for brand owners looking for a one-stop shop. Rob Deans leads the team for the Middle East and North Africa. Concentrating on contentious work, “Rob inspires confidence with his astuteness; he always finds the right solution”. One client notes that, having transferred its trademark work to Clyde & Co, “we have had a 100% success rate”. There are few better than commercial IP specialist Joycia Young. A franchising virtuoso, she is a dyed-in-the-wool deal broker.

Gowling WLG snapped up one of the best trademark practitioners in the world in former Clyde & Co man Jon Parker. A “leading light of intellectual property in the United Arab Emirates”, Parker has established a far-ranging, multilingual, highly efficient domestic and international practice at the firm with phenomenal speed. He is particularly brilliant on prosecution and portfolio management and is in hot demand. He and his colleagues also assuredly guide disputes to a successful close. The side is one of the only trademark-savvy commercial firms in the world with an established presence in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Rouse & Co International
Rouse & Co’s rock-solid Dubai practice celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017. The firm is widely applauded for its sterling portfolio management and enforcement efforts. UAE country manager – and captain of the marketing, advertising and digital practice – Chad Dowle leads a “strong and experienced team” of 29 fee earners and 10 legal consultants. One client says, “Chad is among the very best lawyers I work with. He has excellent knowledge of the law, but also adopts a very commercial approach to cases, offering a 24/7 service”. Another pillar of the firm is head of trademarks and regional portfolio management, Edward Hardcastle, a cogent choice for brand clearance exercises, as well as acquisition and maintenance matters. Household names such as Starbucks trust in the finely tuned IP instincts of Bassel El Turk; the Seattle coffee house has been sending more and more work his way and, together with Sara Holder, he is now responsible for the company’s entire portfolio in the Middle East and North Africa. “Indispensable for her understanding of local trademark personnel and practice”, Holder is a dab hand at developing portfolios and expanding their reach. She protects, enforces and commercialises some of the most well-known global marks with finesse. “Sara grasps the crux of legal and business issues quickly and deftly. She dispenses practical advice and achieves positive, constructive solutions.”
Saba & Co Intellectual Property
“Saba & Co is the longest-established IP firm in the Middle East. Thanks to its quick turnaround, it is great for filing. It has a large geographic footprint and is cost-effective.” Indeed, the firm’s expertise encompasses the entirety of the Middle East and North Africa; its sprawling network stretches from Morocco to Kenya with its eastern-most office in Pakistan. A partner in the Dubai office since 2013, Hady Khawand discerningly counsels clients on all IP issues and always keeps commercial considerations at the forefront of his mind.
Simmons & Simmons LLP
An undisputed master when it comes to transactions and IP commercialisation, “class act” Raza Rizvi directs Simmons & Simmons’ IP operation in the Middle East; “highly efficient and responsive”, he is just the man for the job. He skilfully steers international clients around Middle Eastern IP obstacles; currently he is advising Google on a multifaceted product launch and supplying perspicacious brand strategy advice to the Abu Dhabi Financial Group. His talents extend to enforcement, where he has recently been advising Samsung Group’s experiential marketing agency, Cheil Worldwide, on enforcement concerns. Promoted to partner in 2017, “Raza stands out for his combination of technical knowledge and commercial understanding. He gets modern brand exploitation – particularly with regard to the digital environment – and his advice is refreshingly business-focused”.

Individuals

Rob Deans - Clyde & Co LLP
Omar Obeidat - Al Tamimi & Company
Jon Parker - Gowling WLG
Mark Bone-Knell - Bone-Knell Symons Intellectual Property
Mark Devaney - Bone-Knell Symons Intellectual Property
Chad Dowle - Rouse & Co International
Bassel El Turk - Rouse & Co International
Amjad El-Husseini - Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property
Peter Hansen - Cedar White Bradley
Edward Hardcastle - Rouse & Co International
David Harper - Cedar White Bradley
Sara Holder - Rouse & Co International
Hady Khawand - Saba & Co Intellectual Property
Raza Rizvi - Simmons & Simmons LLP
Halim Shehadeh - Cedar White Bradley
Kate Symons - Bone-Knell Symons Intellectual Property
Joycia Young - Clyde & Co LLP
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Issue 72