United Arab Emirates

Situated at the crossroads of Africa, Asia and Europe, the United Arab Emirates is a strategically important jurisdiction for brand owners. There have been some notable recent developments in the market of late: following a 2019 reduction of official fees, the UAE trademark office announced a further cut which became effective in April 2020. As these price decreases impact on filings, prosecution, maintenance and opposition actions, they have made both protection and enforcement of IP rights more affordable. The office has also launched new online services which have streamlined processes. These moves have helped to drive increased awareness of intellectual property in the market.

Firms

  • Al Tamimi & Company
  • Gowling WLG
  • Rouse
  • Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property
  • Bird & Bird LLP
  • BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP
  • Cedar White Bradley IP LLC
  • Clyde & Co LLP
  • Hadef & Partners
  • Saba & Co Intellectual Property
  • Symons IP
  • United Trademark & Patent Services

Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property

“Professional, knowledgeable and reliable”, is the consensus on Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property. “It provides perfectly clear and succinct advice in a quick turnaround and gives each matter immediate personal attention.” As a one-stop shop, it services needs across the Middle East and North Africa through a centralised point of contact, coordinating with sister firm TAG Legal on enforcement and commercialisation instructions. Executive director of UAE operations Amjad El-Husseini is a prosecution maestro who frequently assists prominent names in the technology, media and automotive sectors.

Al Tamimi & Company

Nationally reputed commercial law outfit Al Tamimi is distinguished for the quality of its trademark practice, strength in depth and regional coverage. Its 450 legal professionals work seamlessly across 17 offices in nine countries to cover all bases for brand owners. A driving force, Omar Obeidat heads up the competition and IP group. He has played an active role in shaping national legislation and can advise rights holders on its intricacies. Especially effective in contentious scenarios and anti-counterfeiting, he acts swiftly and decisively.

Bird & Bird LLP

“Concise and quick replies, as well efficient case management, make working with Bird & Bird an absolute pleasure. Its proactive, solutions-oriented group handles all the moving parts of a portfolio in a highly organised way and gives top-notch advice in alignment with international best practices. The team ensures that brands receive the best possible protection.” Spearheading the IP division is Melissa Murray, a franchising specialist with more than 14 years of experience in the Middle East. She is a good port of call for brands looking to establish a presence in the United Arab Emirates or expand into surrounding territories. Joining her in the WTR 1000 this year is Renee Nugent, who is admitted to the New York Bar and is also a qualified Irish, UK and European trademark attorney. She acquits herself with distinction across the contentious/non-contentious divide. Clients also have special praise for Sahar Tarhini’s prosecution talents, as well as Ali Yaacoub’s special skillset in enforcement and anti-counterfeiting.

BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP

For brand owners, BSA has a lot to offer, including a network of several offices across five countries; a deep bench of practitioners with an intimate understanding of local laws and policies, as well as rights of audience before the courts; and a specialised IP team that dovetails neatly with the firm’s full-service set-up. From prosecution to commercialisation, it makes the right moves for prestigious clients such as leading national broadcaster MBC. Recent highlights include representing Fortafy games in a cross-border case with proceedings ongoing in the United States and the United Arab Emirates, the results of which may bring about a new principle of law. Playing a frontline role in the ensemble’s trademark activities is department head Munir Suboh, who garners glowing praise from clients: “He has an unparalleled combination of in-depth expertise, responsiveness and pragmatism, which is crucial when guiding businesses through infringement and counterfeiting actions. Munir also has a great understanding of the inner workings of all the registries, making him the go-to lawyer for portfolio maintenance and development. His advice always considers commercial objectives and budgetary concerns – he truly is an asset to any company.”

Cedar White Bradley IP LLC

“A premier choice for all-round IP services, Cedar White Bradley is on hand to assist in registrations on a local and international level, rejuvenate existing marks and assist in their protection too. It produces well-considered, thorough reports that bring extra value at a reasonable price point. Overall, the team is responsive, highly skilled and great to collaborate with.” The ensemble also provides litigation services through a partnership with Khalid Altamimi Advocates & Legal Consultants, a UAE-based dispute resolution boutique. CEO Halim Shehdadeh runs a tight ship while orchestrating key enforcement campaigns alongside the “personable and service-minded” Nina Osseiran. Osseiran “gives pragmatic advice that considers clients’ business objectives” and divides her time between Dubai and Washington, where she is also admitted to the state bar. Turning to prosecution, David Harper has over a decade of experience in the Middle East and regularly counsels on clearance and filing strategies for dynamic brands. He was recently appointed to the firm’s executive committee along with UK-qualified trademark attorney Saba Al Sultani. Head of trademarks Al-Sultani “projects an air of calm reassurance and has an ability to swiftly solve complex problems. Diligent and commercially oriented, she manages to find a clear way forward and truly is a cut above the competition”.

Clyde & Co LLP

“When you instruct Clyde & Co, you are guaranteed a dynamic service from a fantastic team, along with solid and practical advice which looks at all the legal and business angles.” In the words of one foreign associate: “You feel completely at ease when working with them – it really is like collaborating with an extension of your own firm.” The global player has a strong presence in the Arab world and an excellent track record assisting prestigious rights holders such as Etihad Airways through each stage of the trademark lifecycle. A go-to for prosecution, Mark Devaney is “highly regarded in the industry. He readily makes himself available, stays on top of the latest practice developments and always thinks ahead”. A dream partner for ambitious brands, licensing and franchising specialist Joycia Young has masterminded many international expansion success stories.

Gowling WLG

Held in high esteem by peers and clients, Gowling WLG enjoys an outstanding reputation in the United Arab Emirates. The team always goes the extra mile; for example, “its training sessions for in-house counsel are extremely engaging and really beneficial”. Positive feedback for the group abounds: its “attentiveness, well-balanced and practical approach and rapid turnaround times” are all points of praise. The firm is also home to the popular Jon Parker, an “exceptionally responsive, vastly experienced expert who knows everything there is to know about trademarks in the Middle East”. “Jon is a straight-up, genuine and dependable lawyer, and probably one of the nicest IP practitioners there is.” Notable recent highlights include assisting MENA Hospitality in the development and protection of its new global hotel brands. Joining Parker in the guide this year is new recruit Rachel Armstrong: “Dedicated, committed and organised, she has a terrific understanding of the relevant laws and gives fantastic regulatory and strategic guidance to brands looking to operate in the region. She is simply a pleasure to work with.”

Hadef & Partners

When it comes to safeguarding brands, the IP group at Hadef & Partners takes a holistic approach. Understanding the pressures and time constraints faced by in-house counsel, the squad designs and executes tight regional filing strategies to ensure seamless cross-border protection. With litigators who have rights of audience before the UAE courts, the set is also ready to roll whenever infringement issues loom. Trademark division head James Dunne is “not only a genius, but also a very humble and thoughtful lawyer. He is the go-to for portfolio management, thanks to his clear communication skills, impressive technical expertise and proactivity”. The commercial practice group is led by Victoria Woods, who successfully negotiates licensing deals for household names in the media and hospitality industries.

Rouse

Rouse is a “trusted and valued partner in the UAE and in the Middle East”. USPs include its “expert knowledge of regional trademark practices and requirements” and service-oriented ethos, which sees it “schedule regular catch-ups and bill flexibly.” The ensemble’s focus on intellectual property gives rights holders confidence that their most valuable assets will receive cast-iron protection. Setting the standard is head of disputes Bassel El Turk: “He understands the industries his clients operate in and provides succinct, no-fuss and prompt advice which is culturally well considered.” Also demonstrating stellar leadership is Sara Holder, who co-heads the firm’s global patent and technology practice. She has a deft touch on brands and continues to shine in strategic prosecution. She links up with El Turk to manage the portfolio of Starbucks and has lately also been engaged with marketing and advertising work on behalf of Visa. For those with transactional IP needs, Samantha Grainger is a discerning choice. She previously did a stint in-house at a prominent Dubai development company and has sharpened commercial instincts to show for it.

Saba & Co Intellectual Property

Established in 1926, Saba & Co has played an influential role in the development of IP laws across the Middle East and North Africa. Capitalising on the firm’s sprawling network and vast chest of resources are a host of prominent names, such as Decathlon, Ferrari, Lego, Gillette and Bureau Dubai Expo 2020. Locally, “its professional, loyal and super-attentive trademark team” is led by Hady Khawand: “A respectful, resourceful and intelligent practitioner with great judgement, he solves problems as they arise and proactively suggests cost-effective strategies in counterfeiting matters.”

Symons IP

Highly prized for its prosecution capabilities, Symons Intellectual Property is warmly endorsed. “From the very beginning of the relationship, all of our needs were dealt with in a streamlined and efficient way,” enthuses one client. “We receive regular updates while benefitting from transparent pricing plans and accurate timelines.” Founder Kate Symons puts heart and soul into her work: “Friendly and open minded, she is a wonderful communicator and produces excellent reports. She is utterly reliable and looks for optimum results that won’t break the bank.”

United Trademark & Patent Services

Few firms can rival the truly global reach of United Trademark & Patent Services. Especially proficient at prosecution, it is “super-helpful and produces high-quality work even when under the pressure of tight deadlines”. Its enforcement capabilities are also worthy of special mention; counterfeiting matters are dealt with quickly and discreetly. Senior partner Maria Khan is a key contact for the address book.

Other recommended experts

Hoda Taysir Barakat has superb advocacy skills, which she puts to use on behalf of non-governmental organisations and luxury goods companies. She also focuses much of her time on advisory work and can be found at Hoda Barakat Legal Consultancy. UK-qualified solicitor and former Clyde & Co man Rob Deans has decades of experience overseeing enforcement activities and is a wise strategist. He can now be found at his own boutique, Deans IP.

Individuals

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