United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is an increasingly attractive market for brand owners from outside the region, keen to tap its potential when opportunities for growth might be scarcer close to home. As a result, international players have been making moves to shore up their practices in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA); this year’s tables include two additions, in the form of Bird & Bird and Gowling WLG. A sudden and dramatic increase in official fees in 2015 came as a shock and continues to be a problem not just for small and medium-sized enterprises, but also for larger business concerns. One positive aspect of this is that the additional revenue should assist the Department of Industrial Property in speeding up its processes.

Firms

1
Al Tamimi & Company
Clyde & Co LLP
Rouse & Co International
2
Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property
Cedar White Bradley
Saba & Co Intellectual Property
3
Bird & Bird
Bone-Knell Symons Intellectual Property
Simmons & Simmons
Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property
No other organisation can secure brand owners the trademark protection they require across the Arab world in the same way as Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property, thanks to its 21-strong network of offices throughout the region. With additional bureaux in India, Turkey, Pakistan, Cyprus, China and Afghanistan, and alliances around the globe, it provides a truly international service. While the firm is best known for its filing prowess, its service is holistic, encompassing domain names, licensing and franchising. An executive director in the United Arab Emirates, Amjad El-Husseini keeps the team firing on all cylinders.
Al Tamimi & Company
“Within this market, there are two types of firm: those which specialise in filing and focus on volume, and those which offer more strategic guidance surrounding the management and development of portfolios. Al Tamimi is one of the best within the latter camp.” Omar Obeidat leads the international IP group from the Dubai office. Under his watch, it has developed one of the most effective regional anti-counterfeiting and enforcement practices. Obeidat represents excellent value, thanks to his ability to advise on a wide spectrum of IP and other legal issues, including regulatory law, data and consumer protection, as well as free trade.
Bird & Bird
Bird & Bird opened its Abu Dhabi office in 2011 and a Dubai office in late 2013; having since considerably strengthened its MENA practice, it makes its debut in the UAE tables this year. The Dubai team has abundant local expertise, together with the backing of a robust international support package, making it a prime choice for both inbound and outbound instructions. Emirates Airline is just one of the household names that has flocked to its doors; it has been entrusted with trademark prosecution and copyright protection for the Dubai flag carrier. Licensing and transactional work is a particular forte for the group, which is captained by commercial lawyer Melissa Murray.
Bone-Knell Symons Intellectual Property
Bone-Knell Symons might be a recent entrant to the UAE market, but its team has a wealth of collective experience handling trademark protection matters in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and wider MENA region. In May 2016 the group significantly bolstered its ranks by hiring Mark Devaney from esteemed London firm Gill Jennings & Every. Devaney’s intimate familiarity with UK and European trademark law will serve him well as he settles into professional life in the emirate. He joins Mark Bone-Knell and Kate Symons, who both leverage extensive in-house experience to provide business-minded IP advice that plays well in the C suite.
Cedar White Bradley
By bringing Cedar White Bradley on board, brand owners can secure ironclad protection for valuable brands throughout this burgeoning region. Not your traditional filing shop, it partners closely with clients to provide tailored strategic advice that is unfailingly on point. Of particular note is the group’s contentious nous; it can carry the day in any opposition or cancellation proceeding and, with its own specialist anti-counterfeiting team, is well positioned to mastermind investigations and raids. Acting in concert with Khalid A Altamimi Advocates, it can also handle full-blown trademark litigation. Chief executive officer Halim Shehadeh can cure any trademark-related headache. The insights he has gleaned from running the firm’s day-to-day operations have carried over into his practice, which is evident in his pragmatic, commercially attuned approach. David Harper is an up-and-coming star in this corner of the world. The New Zealander has worked in Dubai for years, but only recently joined the firm in 2015. He is a perspicacious strategic counsellor and a lightning-fast enforcer.
Clyde & Co LLP
Though it recently lost Jon Parker, Clyde & Co retains one of the strongest, most business-focused IP practices in the United Arab Emirates and beyond; MENA IP head Rob Deans makes sure of that. Cambridge-educated English solicitor Deans has led from the front on crucial regional IP matters for 13-plus years and is especially respected for his ability to solve contentious conundrums that leave others scratching their heads. Another key contact is Joycia Young, a franchising guru and all-round IP commercialisation authority. Wragge Lawrence Graham has had boots on the ground in Dubai for some time, though it lacked a Middle East IP practice; the merger with Gowlings and the recent hire of Jon Parker from Clyde & Co have changed all that, however. Gold-rated prosecutor and wonderful all-round brand adviser Parker has quickly risen to the task of building up the firm’s trademark practice in this strategically important region. It can already field virtually any contentious or non-contentious trademark request and looks set to become a force to be reckoned with on the UAE landscape.
Rouse & Co International
With a lot of heavy hitters stationed in the emirates, Rouse knows how best to get the right results for clients in a lean and cost-efficient way. The depth of its bench is a real differentiator, giving it a unique ability to handle large-scale regional projects for marquee international brand owners. “The advice you get is always practical and commercially relevant, and the team is appreciative of the reality of the budgeting constraints faced by people in-house.”Managing MENA operations is Sara Holder, a versatile IP practitioner with extensive international expertise. Playing the role of UAE country manager is Chad Dowle, another go-to for multinationals with regional needs. Edward Hardcastle is one of the most experienced soft IP specialists around; dividing his time between Dubai, Riyadh and London, he acts as a bridge for many businesses seeking to expand their interests in the Arab world. Bassel El Turk holds the reins of the Dubai dispute resolution team and is a top choice for complex litigation.
Saba & Co Intellectual Property
Saba & Co’s extensive office network ensures that it stands poised to safeguard clients’ interests wherever the need should arise. The consistency of its service gives comfort to those seeking to protect their rights in a coordinated way across multiple jurisdictions. Having handled numerous litigations and counterfeit goods seizures, it has long proved its mettle on the contentious front, though it remains best known for its deft handling of trademark applications. Senior IP attorney Hady Khawand is the man to seek out; as a result of his in-house experience, he has an intuitive grasp of clients’ commercial objectives.
Simmons & Simmons
While it remains to be seen how changes in the team structure in London will affect its international trademark practice, Simmons & Simmons continues to offer first-class support to brand owners with a focus on the Middle East. The firm is lucky to have Raza Rizvi on site: “He is a superb IP lawyer with great flair, who always seems to add value and is quick to find solutions to complex issues.” With a flair for the commercial exploitation of intellectual property, he recently inked significant deals for Triumph and Electrolux, among many others. He also makes light work of all manner of rights management, brand development and dispute matters.

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
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
Halim Shehadeh - Cedar White Bradley
Kate Symons - Bone-Knell Symons Intellectual Property
Joycia Young - Clyde & Co LLP
Close

Register for more free content

  • Read more World Trademark Review blogs and articles
  • Receive the editor's weekly review by email
Register now  
Issue 69