Nokia wins small victory over counterfeiters

United Arab Emirates

The Dubai Criminal Court of Appeal has upheld a decision by the Dubai Court of First Instance in which the latter imposed a fine of Dh10,000 on the defendant for selling counterfeit accessories for Nokia mobile phones (Case 6094/2007, January 2 2008).

The defendant was found guilty of selling counterfeit mobile phone accessories bearing the trademark NOKIA. The Dubai Court of First Instance imposed a fine of Dh10,000, and ordered the confiscation and destruction of the goods. The defendant appealed, seeking a more lenient sentence. He alleged that he was unaware that the goods were not genuine. The Dubai Criminal Court of Appeal considered that the defendant's denial of charges constituted an attempt to escape punishment and affirmed the first instance decision.

In a similar case, the Ajman Court of Appeal imposed a fine of Dh2,000 on the defendant, and ordered the confiscation and destruction of counterfeit NOKIA-branded accessories (Case 421/2007, November 26 2007). The fine was lower in this case because the defendant provided invoices for purchase of the accessories.

Criminal prosecutions against counterfeiters in the United Arab Emirates often have mixed results. Articles 37 and 38 of the Trademarks Law expressly provide that the illegal use of registered trademarks will be penalized (by imprisonment and pecuniary fines). The courts tend to adopt a lenient approach as long as the defendants admit guilt. However, a majority of IP rights holders are in favour of more stringent penalties in order to deter counterfeiters and recoup their losses.

Simmy Flame Rease, Al Tamimi & Company - Advocates and Legal Consultants, Dubai

Unlock unlimited access to all WTR content