People and places
Intellectual property in Kuwait is protected by local trademark, patent and copyright laws, as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Trademark Law and the GCC Patent Law. Kuwait moved from the United States Trade Representative’s Priority Watch List to the Watch List in 2020, after taking steps to improve enforcement of copyright law through its 2019 Copyright and Related Rights Law and the implementing regulations.
Many regional law firms have IP practices in Kuwait City; global law firms are better represented in Dubai, Doha and Riyadh.
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Regional IP firm Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP) has its roots in Kuwait, although its current headquarters are in Jordan. The firm was founded in 1972 as T.M.P. Agents at a time when IP protection was still in its early stages in the Middle East. Executive director Hazem Abu-Ghazaleh is based in Kuwait. The firm has been involved in revising and drafting important IP laws and regulations in at least half a dozen Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates. The firm has offices spread across more than 30 predominantly Muslim jurisdictions, as well as in China, India and Russia, each with their own significant Muslim minority populations.
Al-Hamad Legal Group has developed its IP practice at the same time IP has gain prominence in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Emad Shams El-Din is the firm’s expert in IP law, ecommerce and internet law and entrepreneurship. He also brings strong experience in corporate and commercial work, as well as Shari’ah-compliant finance and investments; he was previously a director in the legal department of a major investment holding group in Kuwait.
Kuwait-based Al Markaz Law Firm offers IP and litigation advice, as well as a complete roster of commercial and related services.
Al Oula Law (Adel Abdulhadi & Partners) is a full-service law firm based in Kuwait with a top-notch IP practice. Managing partner Adel Abdulhadi is a key contact; he has practiced before all courts in Kuwait and many in Gulf Cooperation Council countries. One of his highest profile cases was in 2015, when he raised a constitutional challenge against Kuwait’s infamous DNA Law No. 78/2015, which is one of only a few in the world requiring nationwide compulsory DNA collection and testing. The Constitutional Court ruled that the said law is unconstitutional. Sanabil Jafar, director of the firm’s international law department, has been a key driver in the firm’s expansion to foreign jurisdictions. The firm has recently advised Satco Food Trading Company on brand management matters, particularly with regard to protecting the IP of international brands.
Regional law firm Al Tamimi & Co is led by partner Philip Kotsis in Kuwait. Dubai-based partner Omar Obeidat is the firm’s head of competition and intellectual property, while partner Ahmad Saleh, also based in Dubai, heads the firm’s innovation and patents team. The firm operates 17 offices in 10 countries across the Middle East and North Africa.
Al Yaqout & Al Fouzan Legal Group (YFLG) has a relatively young IP rights practice, but the firm has developed expertise in economic offenses, deemed criminal offenses and various penal matters that fall under the IP umbrella. The firm is led by Khalifah Al Yaqout, a renowned litigator who has appeared in high-profile cases in Kuwait and the UAE. The firm has advised a retail store on the registration of three of its trademarks in jurisdictions including Egypt, India and Turkey. Senior partner Jarrah Al Fouzan focuses on investment law, real estate law and Islamic finance.
ASAR – Al Ruwayeh & Partners is a Tier 1 corporate law firm with practices covering intellectual property; media, communication and technology; franchising; healthcare and life sciences; data protection and privacy; agency and distributorship; and venture capital. The firm’s IP practice has a top-notch litigation and enforcement team. Senior associate Edlyn Verzola is a key contact for IP matters; she has extensive experience in employment law and disputes, agency, franchising, data privacy, trademark disputes, copyright and intellectual property law matters. She also advises on competition, anti-corruption compliance, anti-money laundering, cybercrime and internet matters; she was previously vice president for legal affairs and compliance officer of a subsidiary of GE Capital based in the Asia Pacific.
Baianat Intellectual Property has more than 25 offices in 17 different jurisdictions in the Middle East and North Africa. Mohammad Elbaik is a key contact in the firm’s Kuwait office; he attends oppositions and appeals regarding trademark matters, as well as IP prosecution and infringement proceedings.
Dar Al Muhama is a Kuwait-based full-service law firm with an IP practice capable of providing special consultations for trademarks, patents, copyrights and industrial models; handling IP disputes; and registering trademarks and other IP. Managing partner Abdulrahman Alhouti is a key contact for his IP, trademarks, litigation and arbitration ability, as well as his skill in commercial and corporate work. Prior to opening his own firm in 2005, he worked as a legal researcher in the Ministry of the Interior and an investigator in the Public Investigators Authority.
Doha-based JAH & Co. IP has more than 20 years of experience in the Middle East and Africa, advising clients of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies on a plethora of IP matters. “Intellectual property is among the most important assets of every enterprise,” says firm CEO Jehad Ali Hasan. “With the globalization of the world economy and commerce, the Middle East and Arab world with its young population and resources contributes significantly towards it.”
Full-service Kuwait-based Menwer & Associates has a notable intellectual property practice, providing IP advice, registration, trademark protection, confidentiality agreements and IP dispute resolution.
Lawyer Hassan Al Musawi is a key IP contact at Meshari Al Osaimi, a Kuwait-based full-service law firm. Al Musawi advises on franchising and distribution, proprietary rights protection and licensing, and assists clients that are involved in the sale, distribution and marketing of products and services, both domestically and internationally, through distribution, franchise, dealer, agency and other forms of relationships. He also works on Islamic Finance issues, assisting clients and investors on financing solutions in accordance with the principles and values of Shari’ah Islamic laws.
Kuwait-based NEN International has a strong disputes team, and handles a large number of franchising and distribution deals, acting for both franchisors and franchisees/principals and distributors. Much of its franchising experience is in the food and beverage and retail sectors.
Regional firm Saba & Co. Intellectual Property, also known as Saba IP, works in cooperation with Jasem Ahmed Alfahed Establishment in Kuwait. Tarek El Hajj is country manager in Kuwait; he provides IP, legal and strategic advice to clients. He was previously stationed in the firm’s Morocco and UAE offices. The firm, as one of the region’s largest IP-focussed practices, handles the gamut of IP matters. The firm’s offices stretch from the Middle East to Central Asia and throughout much of Africa.
Other Notable Firms
- Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property
- Al Markaz Law Firm
- Al Oula Law Firm (Adel Abdulhadi & Partners)
- Al Tamimi & Co.
- Al-Hamad Legal Group
- Al-Yaqout Legal Group (AYLG)
- ASAR – Al Ruwayeh & Partners
- Dar Al-Muhama
- JAH & Co. IP
- Menwer Law Firm
- Meshari Al Osaimi
- NEN International
- Saba IP, in cooperation with Jasem Ahmed Alfahd Establishment