Abu Dhabi government issues new regulation on trade names

United Arab Emirates

The Abu Dhabi government has issued a new regulation relating to the issuing of trade names in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi – Administrative Resolution No 7 of 2014 on the Rules of Trade Names in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Under the regulation, the registration of trade names will be handled centrally by the Abu Dhabi Business Centre, which forms part of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

The Business Centre will be solely responsible for maintaining a central register of trade names. The Business Centre has the power to cancel and modify trade names, in the event that they are similar to an existing trade name. The Business Centre also has the authority to examine and settle disputes over trade names.

The regulation provides clarification regarding the relationship between trademarks and trade names by stating that a trade name must not be registered if it is identical or similar to a registered national or international trademark, other than where it is filed by or on behalf of the trademark owner.

The regulation also outlines other restrictions as to what may be registered as trade names, including the need for approval where a UAE geographical name is used for non-government entities.

While the regulation is to be welcomed by brand owners, there are still a number of questions that are to be addressed over the coming months, such as whether the Business Centre will conduct searches against trademarks at the time a new trade name is filed, or whether it will be left to brand owners to enforce their rights against potentially conflicting trade names.

It should be noted that this is not a UAE Federal Law, and it only applies to trade names in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It does not apply to trade names in Dubai or in other emirates, nor to Economic Free Zones in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

It remains to be seen whether other emirates will follow Abu Dhabi’s lead.

Jon Parker, Clyde & Co LLP, Dubai

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