Intellectual Property in the Gulf
|Gulf Cooperation Council|
Licence Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4 International
While British departure from the EU on 29 March 2019 may not be a racing certainty with growing calls for a second referendum it is still very likely. British businesses need to look for alternative markets and one with which the UK has very close commercial, diplomatic and cultural links are the Arabic speaking states on the shores of the Arabian (or, if you prefer, Persian) Gulf.
Six of those states have formed a political and economic union known as The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf which is generally abbreviated to Gulf Cooperation Council or "GCC". Those states are Bahrain. Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The combined population of those states is just over 54 million (33 million of whom are Saudi nationals). The states' combined land area is just over 1 million square miles to which Saudi Arabia contributes 830,000 square miles. Though the region's population is modest, per caput GDP is high. The governments of the region are investing heavily in national and regional infrastructure, education and transition from hydrocarbon based to knowledge-based economies.
Several of those states have established economic free zones for banking and other financial services. Three of those zones have their own laws that are derived from those of England and Wales and their own courts that are staffed by English speaking judges from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. Two of those zones, namely The Abu Dhabi Global Market and the Dubai International Financial Centre are in the United Arab Emirates and the Qatar Financial Centre is in Qatar.
Intellectual property is increasingly important to the region. Inventions developed in centres like the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and the Dubai Knowledge Park need to be patented. Companies are being formed throughout the region with brands that need to be protected. Publishers, broadcasters, film makers and performing artists in the region need to be safeguarded from piracy. Patents are available for the whole GCC region from the GCC Patent Office and also for individual member states from national patent offices. Other intellectual property rights subsist under national law. Art 37 of the Law of Obligations of the Dubai Financial Centre establishes an obligation of confidence and art 38 and action for passing off.
The publication in which I monitor events in the region is NIPC Gulf. Links at the top left hand column lead to the Secretariat General of the GCC and the GCC Patent Office. Others below lead to the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts, the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts and the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre. There are also links to ministries, intellectual property offices, science parks and other important agencies in the member states. There are articles on the English language courts such as Abu Dhabi Global Market - Yet Another Common Law Enclave in the Gulf which I posted on 22 Feb 2016, intellectual property law in individual countries such as Saudi Arabia: Overview of Intellectual Property Law of 22 May 2011, the Dubai FinTech accelerator (FinTech in Dubai 2 Aug 2017) and many other topics.
The importance of the English language common law jurisdictions in the Gulf states to business cannot be overstated. They can facilitate exports to, and investment in, the Gulf. There is no reason why the laws of one of the regions financial centres should not be the proper law of a distribution, licence or franchise agreement or why disputes arising out of such contracts should not be decided by the English speaking common law courts. Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai supply offshore financial and professional services to businesses in India and China. Infrastructure investments in China's One Belt One Road and Gujarat's new smart city are likely to be planned and funded in the financial centres of the Gulf thus providing opportunities for British participation.
Anyone wishing to discuss this article or business in the Gulf generally should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.