United Arab Emirates

The UAE economy is steadily gaining momentum, in no small part due to heavy investments coming in for Expo 2020, which is generating more work for the country’s IP practitioners. Thanks to the recent 33% reduction in registration and renewal fees, local businesses are gaining a better understanding of the importance of IP rights and are being encouraged to safeguard them. There is also a greater sense of collaboration and collegiality as the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property welcomed the UAE National Group in 2017 – an effort which is starting to bear fruit among the country’s IP community.

Firms

Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property

Operating like a well-oiled machine, Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property sees that rights are granted in the UAE as well as the rest of the Middle East and North Africa through its strategically placed offices. For almost 50 years, the ensemble has cultivated strong relationships with foreign correspondents and provides a seamless offering around the world. Head honcho Amjad El-Husseini is the best port of call for non-contentious conundrums.

Al Tamimi & Company

“Al Tamimi & Company is one of the major players for enforcement matters and has the largest and most developed trademark prosecution practice to boot.” The commercial law outfit has some impressive stats: it is home to 360 lawyers in 19 offices across nine countries – a massive advantage for clients with cross-border needs. The group is led by Omar Obeidat, “one of the most renowned experts in the country. He is the best of the best. Omar’s experience is vast, he has a fantastic understanding of the practice from all perspectives and industries.” The all-rounder has been counsel to many a household name, including Christian Louboutin and Vodafone.

Bird & Bird LLP

Top-notch global outfit Bird & Bird maintains its trailblazing status in the Arab region. As one client enthuses, “it has a great understanding of local laws and customs, which is incredibly useful when considering your next move. It is commercially focused and helps you achieve your end goal without incurring massive legal fees”. With a knack for licensing and franchising agreements, Melissa Murray knows a thing or two when it comes to extracting maximum value out of IP assets. The department head “has a positive attitude, is consistently responsive and a real pleasure to work with”.

BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP 

Full-service firm BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates makes its first appearance in the 2020 WTR 1000 thanks to effusive praise from clients. “The practice pays great attention to the marketplace and keeps abreast with legal changes worldwide. It provides continuous portfolio assessments, identifies the gaps and helps limit costs through effective brand management. When it comes to advising on tricky and time sensitive litigation, its creativity and capacity to analyse complex legal issues coupled with its strong strategic mindset comes in handy. The service you get is great value for money.” Munir Suboh ensures that the operation runs smoothly. “Professional, proactive and fully committed to fighting his client’s corner” are just some of the ways to describe the IP division spearhead. Suboh nimbly navigates the contentious/non-contentious divide and specialises in the all things media and technology.

Cedar White Bradley

“Cedar White Bradley is the go-to firm when a problem crops up that no one else can solve. The unit is proactive in its communication, manages dockets judiciously and resolves issues expeditiously. It brings a creative, collaborative and diligent approach to handling complex matters and an abundance of resources for high-profile matters throughout the region.” The side serves up a comprehensive suite of branding services through its close cooperation with Khalid Altamimi Advocates & Legal consultants, whose practitioners are authorised representatives before the UAE courts. CEO Halim Shehadeh is an “invaluable adviser with a pragmatic business approach. He understands the complex nature of his client’s businesses and routinely provides great practical insights and astute legal guidance in a holistic manner.” WTR 1000 debutant and UK-qualified trademark attorney Saba Al Sultani took over as department head and “has transformed the working dynamic as a result”. As one foreign associate commends, “her insight and attentiveness along with her knowledge of local laws adds significant value to the service we can provide. She is calm and measured in her guidance, which provides a great deal of reassurance in high-pressure situations. Her attitude is thorough and her advice can effectively be passed on with no amendment.” The versatile Nina Osseiran is immensely popular among US clientele. She has racked up several years of experience in Washington DC at Howrey and then Foley & Lardner, which gives her a distinct edge when advising companies looking to move their business into the Middle East. Final pillar of the practice, Brent Rasmussen “is super responsive, gives great practical advice and is excellent to work with”. With a stint managing the firm’s Riyadh office and a background working in the United States, it comes as no surprise that Saudi Arabia-specific strategies and multi-jurisdictional enforcement mandates are his forte.

Clyde & Co 

“A brilliant practice with a longstanding presence in the region,” Clyde & Co is sought out by the world’s most renowned brands. The global law firm has a robust offering in the Middle East, with outposts in each of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and practitioners to guide you every step of the way. For top-notch strategy and prosecution matters, Mark Devaney has it covered. “Mark is extremely likeable and respected; he also works harder than any lawyer out there and clients feel safe in his hands.” When tensions rise, English solicitor Rob Deans steps in with nerves of steel. The “no-nonsense and resilient litigator is an extremely useful asset on challenging matters. He has an excellent knowledge of local and international laws and processes with the ability to recall every case and its outcome. He can think on his feet whilst remaining pragmatic in his approach – he provides a depth of reassurance in difficult times.” Franchising and licensing whizz Joycia Young understands the value of IP assets and makes light of major commercialisation projects.

Gowling WLG 

“You can tell that Gowling WLG is the top firm in the country by the way it treats its clients. One of its priorities is to offer practical and reasonable advice of the highest quality without racking up a huge bill, utilising its acute knowledge of local laws and customs. Its approach is honest and it does not hold back – you feel completely at ease when instructing it.” The outfit has a diamond in Jon Parker, who receives the best and most feedback of any individual practitioner in the country. “He is the ultimate IP lawyer – his technical knowledge, pragmatic, commercially orientated advice and commitment to the cause is unparalleled. Parker has a ferocious work ethic and a calm client-centric approach, which makes him great to work with. On top of that, he has created a fantastic group around him and continues to lead the firm from strength to strength.”

Hadef & Partners

“The team at Hadef & Partners is fantastic in all critical areas of registration, prosecution as well as advisory and commercial services. It issues strategic and cost-conscious advice in a timely manner.” The unit also works closely with the in-house litigation squad, who have rights of audience before the UAE courts, to offer wall-to-wall brand protection. Heading up the trademark division, James Dunne “has the skillset to make complex processes progress smoothly. He is great to work with and has impeccable technical expertise. His communication is clear, responsive and he ensures that his clients’ trademark interests are safely protected in the UAE and abroad.” His colleague Victoria Woods captains the commercial practice group and acquits herself with distinction on the franchising and licensing front. She plies her stellar negotiation skills and always gets signatures on the bottom line.

Rouse & Co International

Peers rush to extol international giant Rouse & Co and its A-to-Z trademark offering: “My experience of using its services has been consistently positive. The squad is responsive, pragmatic and each practitioner has vast knowledge of the region.” “It understands the client’s strategy, is commercially focused and finds solutions that may not have been considered otherwise. Moreover, it adapts to its clientele and is an excellent business partner.” Testament to the strength of the team, Sara Holder and Bassel El Turk attain gold status in this edition of the WTR 1000. Not only is Holder dynamite in patent matters, she also packs a punch in brand protection strategies and portfolio work; “her advice is crystal clear and she is always quick to respond.” El Turk is a contentious buff whose “advice meets the highest of professional standards. Bassel is a leading authority on intellectual property and has a firm grasp on many legal practices in the Gulf countries and the wider international arena. There is no one better for litigation or anti-counterfeiting matters; his guidance is invaluable to brand owners and the results speak for themselves.” “Samantha Grainger is brilliant – she rolls up her sleeves and gets the job done.” The resident franchising specialist has over two decades of experience under her belt, including an in-house position at one of Dubai’s largest development companies.

Saba & Co Intellectual Property

“In a tough market, Saba & Co comes through. Its practitioners are responsive, extremely accommodating and do great work.” The UAE branch is one of several outposts across the Middle East and North Africa; it offers bean-to-cup services wrapped in business-orientated advice and served up in a robust package. Country manager Hady Khawand “stands out from the crowd. He is a fantastic litigator and the way he manages his cases is most impressive – his strategic thinking is brilliant.” Khawand is joined by WTR 1000 newcomer Roba Hamam, who heads up the legal division. She also serves as the brand protection manager for BMW and is a natural choice for both contentious and non-contentious matters.

Symons IP

Fresh-faced IP boutique Symons IP is a new name on the scene and makes its first appearance this year thanks to enthusiastic praise garnered by firm founder Kate Symons, who has the Midas touch when it comes to portfolio management. “An excellent attorney and a strong advocate for the brands she works with. Symons has a depth of knowledge about the pitfalls that can affect companies in the UAE – which is a massive advantage to her international clientele. She can be counted on in difficult mandates and her guidance is extremely helpful, thorough and timely; she ensures her patrons take the correct steps and avoid procedures that result in wasted time and costs.

Other recommended experts

“Super knowledgeable and trustworthy” Hoda Barakat of Hoda Barakat Legal Consultancy has brand strategy down to a fine art. Operating out of Simmons & Simmons, Raza Rizvi keeps up to date on the latest in technology and sews up high-value deals with finesse.

Individuals

  • Rob Deans - Clyde & Co
  • Bassel El Turk - Rouse & Co International
  • Sara Holder - Rouse & Co International
  • Omar Obeidat - Al Tamimi & Company
  • Jon Parker - Gowling WLG
  • Saba Al Sultani - Cedar White Bradley
  • Hoda Taysir Barakat - Hoda Barakat Legal Consultancy
  • Mark Devaney - Clyde & Co
  • James Dunne - Hadef & Partners
  • Amjad El-Husseini - Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property
  • Samantha Grainger - Rouse & Co International
  • Roba Hamam - Saba & Co Intellectual Property
  • Hady Khawand - Saba & Co Intellectual Property
  • Melissa Murray - Bird & Bird LLP
  • Nina Osseiran - Cedar White Bradley
  • Brent Rasmussen - Cedar White Bradley
  • Raza Rizvi - Simmons & Simmons LLP
  • Halim Shehadeh - Cedar White Bradley
  • Munir Suboh - BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP
  • Kate Symons - Symons IP
  • Victoria Woods - Hadef & Partners
  • Joycia Young - Clyde & Co