Intellectual Property and Counterfeiting in UAE. Intellectual property (“IP”) refers to intangible assets, which are created by the human mind. This category of property includes literary and artistic works, brands, designs and inventions (among other things). The most well-known IP rights include copyrights, patents and trademarks. Under the criminal law, use of these rights without the owner’s permission can amount to a criminal offence. Edmonds Marshall McMahon is a unique firm of former Serious Fraud Office prosecutors and investigators, and we are experts in prosecuting IP offences in the UK and other jurisdictions.
Counterfeiting (the infringement of trade marks) has particularly harmful effects for society and companies in the UAE – it causes reputational damage, is credited with funding organised crime and has health and safety implications. It is a problem that all companies with a brand must consider seriously. As you may know, a trade mark is any sign which can distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another – it is closely associated with business image, goodwill and reputation. Trade mark offences (otherwise known as counterfeiting) cost the global economy billions of pounds each year in forgone company sales and tax revenue.
By way of example, in 2019 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) published a report entitled Trade in Counterfeit Products and the UK Economy. The OECD report estimates that in 2016 counterfeit and pirated goods imported to the UK were worth £13.6 billion, equivalent to 3% of genuine imports. The most common imported fakes include mobile phones, clothes, footwear, handbags and games. This fake trade led to forgone sales by UK businesses of over £9 billion in 2016, amounting to 2.7% of total sales in the retail sector.
Private prosecutions are an effective tool – against large or small targets – to combat the counterfeiting of goods and resulting financial loss to companies. Edmonds Marshall McMahon has a wealth of experience prosecuting IP offences in various jurisdictions and we consider private prosecutions to be an invaluable tool in the fight against counterfeiting, which has grown hugely in the last decade. As part of these prosecutions, we consider confiscation proceedings against convicted defendants, as well as the forfeiture of the relevant goods.