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United Arab Emirates IP Experts 2024

29 February 2024

United Arab Emirates IP Experts 2024

The future for intellectual property in the United Arab Emirates appears bright, thanks to a number of government initiatives.

When the government launched its first corporate income tax in June 2023, income from intellectual property was explicitly marked for taxation. But when Cabinet Decision No. 100 was released on November 3, 2023, which provided guidance on qualifying free zone tax exemptions, intellectual property owners in the UAE rejoiced.

The cabinet decision, which carved out an exemption from corporate income taxes for income derived from the ownership or exploitation of qualifying intellectual property, moved certain intellectual property income into a zero percent corporate tax bracket.

Qualifying IP includes copyrighted software and patents, as well as rights that are functionally equivalent to a patent, including “utility models, intellectual property assets that grant protection to plants and genetic materials (and) orphan drug designations.”

Foreign investment consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates in Dubai explained in its Middle East Briefing in November 2023 that the proportion of the expenses incurred to fund R&D activities directly connected with the creation, invention or significant development of such qualifying IP – along with a deemed “uplift expenditure” – will determine how much income from qualifying IP can enjoy a zero percent rate.

Copyrighted software was included in the decision due to a 2020 ministerial decision that recognized its similarity to patent assets. Observers expect the Federal Tax Authority to release a document  highlighting details of the application of the zero percent rate to IP.

PwC, in a client alert, noted that the definition of qualifying income expanded to include income derived from the ownership or exploitation of qualifying intellectual property. “The inclusion of this definition seems to be targeted for companies who generate income from intellectual property but not trademark royalty, and actually carry out research and development themselves or via third parties,” the firm said.

David Daly, a partner at the Gulf Tax Accounting Group in Dubai. Daly, writing in The National News, said that the decision was aimed at creating “what we can call the UAE patent box.” Daly further said the strategy is “a well-developed framework” used by governments globally to encourage the development and domiciling of commercial intellectual property in their respective domestic markets.

“This demonstrates the UAE’s determination to compete internationally within the norms of other standard government approaches,” Daly said.

In February 2024, the UAE’s Ministry of Economy introduced a programme aimed at better protection for IP. The IP Ecosystem initiative will become a “cornerstone” for growth by attracting more foreign direct investment, Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq said on February 6. The IP Ecosystem is anchored by 11 key initiatives in economic and creative sectors, including programmes aimed at student awareness and support for new technologies.

bin Touq said that the initiative will “significantly boost revenues of the UAE’s intellectual property sector by facilitating the export of innovative, cutting-edge national products and services based on innovation and modern technologies to other international markets. Intellectual property plays a key role. It supports business development, fosters innovation and enhances the overall market value of businesses.”

This suggests that the UAE – a country made up of seven separate emirates, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain – may soon see a boom in the local IP legal market. In this issue, we pay tribute to many of the best IP lawyers in the country by presenting our UAE Top 40 IP Experts list. We asked a large number of IP professionals in the region, who are mostly in-house counsel and corporate legal managers, about what they were looking for from their legal service providers, so as to understand better what clients need and want today. Based on these answers, we have compiled our list of the Top 40 IP experts in the UAE, lawyers who can best understand what their clients need and provide them with the best practical advice.

Nowadays, it takes more than a degree from a top-notch university and a couple of decades of practice for IP lawyers to convince clients that they are the best in the field. When looking for IP advice, clients would opt for outstanding lawyers who can also understand how IP impacts the rest of their business, and advise them with practical, real-world, and business-savvy solutions. Not only do the lawyers need to have sound knowledge of the current law, but they also need to perceive coming trends that might affect clients’ business.

Our list is categorized with the specialized fields of the experts, including patents, trademarks, copyright, enforcement, licensing and franchising, media and entertainment, IT and telecoms, pharma and biotech, and IP litigation. A total of 40 top experts from 25 law firms are presented, including the UAE’s largest IP firms and practices. Some of the region’s top firms are heavily represented in the list: Al Tamimi & Company placed five lawyers on our list (Rasha Al-Ardah, Omar Obeidat, Ahmad Saleh, Ahmad Zaza and Xiaodi Wang), while Gowling WLG (Rachel Armstrong, Tamara El-Shibib, Noor Hasan and Jon Parker) and Rouse (Bassel El Turk, Sara Holder, Samantha Grainger and Paul Muscat) each placed four lawyers.

Two firms each placed three lawyers on our list: CWB (Cameron Crawford, Halim Shehadeh and Theuns van de Merwe).

Most of the lawyers named to our list have multiple practice specialties. Many of them are litigators, while others concentrate on prosecution work or provide strategic advice.

All of them have something in common: they are experts in their fields and, in one way or another, they provide extra value for their clients. They are Asia IP’s UAE IP Experts. – GREGORY GLASS

The United Arab Emirates’ IP Experts is based solely on independent editorial research conducted by Asia IP. As part of this project, we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in the Middle East, Asia and around the world, as well as UAE-focused partners at international law firms, and asked them to nominate private-practice lawyers including foreign legal consultants, advisers and counsel.

The final list reflects the nominations received combined with the input of editorial team at Asia IP, which has more than 45 years of collective experience in researching and understanding the legal market in Asia and the Middle East.

All private practice intellectual property lawyers working at law firms in Japan were eligible for inclusion in the nomination process; there were no fees or any other requirements for inclusion in the process.

The names of our 40 IP Experts are published here. Each IP Expert was given the opportunity to include their biography and contact details in print and on our website, for which a fee was charged.

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