How to File Trademark Registration & Renewal Application Amid COVID-19 in the UAE?

The surprisingly fast spread of COVID-19 has disrupted the functions of all the governments, businesses, and public offices across the world. Most of the Intellectual Property (IP) offices have wither suspended operations or announced indefinite delays in deadlines of filing trademark registrations or renewals. Considering the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, many brand owners are now staying away from registering their trademarks in many jurisdictions across the world. However, filing for trademark registration in the UAE is still possible as the UAE Trademark Office is functioning as before. The UAE Trademark Office is one of the few IP offices across the world that responded well to the COVID-19 uncertainty.

Measures Taken by UAE Trademark Office to Contain COVID-19

The UAE Trademark Office has been quick to change its procedures of functioning in a bid to face the COVID-19 outbreak. The robust online work procedures made the shift to digital operation much easier, unlike many other IP offices across the world. The UAE Ministry of Economy has also announced a slew of measures so that the brand owners can still file their applications for trademark registration and renewal.

a) Remote Working of Trademark Office Staff

The brand owners need not worry about filing trademark registration or renewal applications as the UAE Patent and Trademark Office is still operating at full capacity. The staff is working remotely as most of the processes can be effectively done online. The applicants are able to submit their documents for trademark registration or renewal online or can be sent via courier.  The online operations have made the trademark registration process continue unaffected by the COVID-19 threat. In this regard, the UAE Trademark Office acts as a role model for IP offices across the world.

b) Stimulus Measures in the Form of Trademark Fee Reductions

The UAE has been considered to be the most expensive jurisdiction for all trademark-related services including search, application filing, registration, renewal, etc. However, considering the gravity of the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 situation, the Ministry of Economy has reduced the fee for all the trademark services.

Trademark registration UAE cost has been reduced to AED 5000 from AED 6,700. The trademark application filing fee has been reduced to AED 750 from the previous fee of AED 1,000. The fee for trademark search has been slashed to AED 350 from an earlier AED 500. The Ministry of Economy has also reduced the fee for publishing in the official gazette to AED 350 from AED 500.

The reduction in the official trademark fee has been viewed as a timely measure through which the UAE Trademark Office has effectively avoided the situation of brand owners abandoning the processes of trademark registration and trademark renewal.

c) New Guideline for Trademark Opposition Hearings

In the wake of precautionary measures like social distancing, the UAE Trademark Office has suspended the face to face hearings of trademark oppositions. However, the appointed hearings will take place on the basis of written submissions. The right holders need to pay the hearing fee and file written submissions. A hearing summary will be circulated for the concerned parties to complete and sign on the date of the hearing.

d) UAE IP Enforcement Bodies Operating Normally

The UAE Customs and the UAE administration enforcement departments have implemented provisions to avoid face to face interactions. For trademark enforcement, the Customs and administration departments have adopted a “communication by email only” policy. This is the major departure from the usual procedure and apart from that, the business is as usual for these departments.

How did Other Major IP Offices Respond to COVID-19?

Once the lockdowns measures started, many IP offices across the world responded by shutting down the operations temporarily. Many of them reopened with restrictions in place and some of them extended the closures. Some others have adopted online work procedures but extended the deadlines. Here is a list of IP offices that suspended the operations/ extended deadlines once the COVID-19 crisis started aggravating in 2020.

1. European Union (EUIPO)

The EUIPO has adopted the remote working policy and still examines applications. However, the deadlines of terms have been extended.

2. Egypt

The Egypt Patent and Trademark Office had suspended operations due to COVID-19 but reopened on April 26, 2020. It is functioning for limited hours to accept new applications only.

3. Hong Kong

The Hong Kong IP Office had closed the operations but reopened recently. All the filing deadlines for trademarks and patents have been extended

4. India

Due to the continued lockdowns, India has suspended all of its operations until May 18, 2020. Hearings previously scheduled through Video Conferencing have been cancelled.

5. South Korea

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has extended all the deadlines due to COVID-19. The KIPO has asked the brand owners to avoid physical visits to the office and urged them to use online services.

How Trademark Registration Agents in the UAE are Helpful?

The UAE Trademark Office has been successful in conducting trademark-related services including filing for registration and renewals without disruption. The timely adoption of remote working strategy has made the Trademark Office function normally even though submission of documents is conducted online. This is a commendable achievement as many IP Offices across the world have suspended operations due to COVID-19 initially only to resume operations later.  The adoption of the online strategy has helped the brand owners file for trademark applications without delay amid the global pandemic. However, the pressure on the brand owners has increased amid the social distancing measures and they require the service of a reputed IP service firm like Jitendra Intellectual Property (JIP). JIP’s highly qualified trademark agents have responded well to the COVID-19 situation and are committed to helping the clients file for trademark registrations or renewals. Even when disruptions are happening across the world, JIP can ensure that the trademarks remain protected across the GCC, thereby helping the clients enhance brand visibility.

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