The contributions of Dubai Customs toward protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights have significantly paved the way for a new UAE milestone. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), a US government agency, has issued a decision removing the UAE from the Watch List for IP protection and enforcement in its Annual Special Report on Intellectual Property Protection. The report classifies the UAE among the countries and US trading partners that apply adequate and effective measures to protect and enforce intellectual property rights as per IP-related international standards and global best practices.
The USTR stated in its latest report on global IP compliance that the UAE made progress on longstanding IP enforcement concerns, through a series of IP enforcement measures by multiple local government and federal authorities. The report highlighted “increased efforts by Dubai Customs” and hailed the key role it has played in intellectual property enforcement and awareness across Dubai, leading to the UAE being removed from the Watch List that includes countries less compliant with IP rights protection.
The USTR is the United States agency responsible for developing and recommending United States trade policy and conducting trade negotiations at bilateral and multilateral level. It also issues annual reports on matters related to countries’ compliance with international trade regulations and agreements, including intellectual property protection.
H.E. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, CEO and Chairman of DP World Group and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC), welcomed the decision of the Office of the United States Trade Representative removing the UAE from the Watch List of countries that are less compliant with intellectual property rights protection. He underlined that Dubai Customs is committed to implementing all the obligations of the UAE under international trade regulations and agreements and attaches great importance to the enforcement and protection of IP rights.
“We are pleased that Dubai Customs’ IP efforts have contributed to this achievement by the UAE. This underpins strategic plans to increase foreign trade growth, in fulfillment of the wise leadership’s directives and particularly the trade roadmap vision approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which sets out a five-year plan to boost Dubai’s foreign trade to Dh2 trillion,” said PCFC chairman.
“Intellectual property rights protection is a key competitive advantage that helps our national economy thrive and attract more trade by providing a safe environment for international businesses and traders, safeguarding their brands and business assets against the dangers of counterfeit and pirated goods. IP protection is also valuable for encouraging creativity and innovation as it significantly improve companies’ ability to generate revenue and make the most of their new products and creations brought into the market.”
Bin Sulayem reaffirmed that Dubai Customs, in full cooperation with US and other foreign diplomatic bodies, has been actively engaged in tackling the illicit trade of counterfeits. Our customs centers work in tandem with the IPR department and all relevant stakeholders and border agencies to enforce intellectual property laws and ensure the rights of trademark owners by making sure that any detected IPR-infringing goods are seized and prevented from entering local markets.
“Dubai Customs has long been steadfastly committed to intellectual property rights protection. In 2005, we established the IPR department, the first of its kind at the level of customs authorities in the Middle East, with the aim of optimizing coordination amongst different customs units and centers in the area of enforcement and protection of intellectual property rights,” said H.E. Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs.
“We are constantly stepping up our performance in this field through enhanced cooperation with diplomatic bodies and brand owners to enable them to protect their trademarks against unfair competition from fake, counterfeit goods,” explained Musabih.
In Q1, 2021, Dubai Customs resolved 81 intellectual property disputes, with an estimated value of Dh11.3 million, and recycled 510,000 counterfeit items for 26 international brands. In 2020, 255 disputes with an estimated value of Dh62.2 million were resolved, and 161,800 counterfeit items for 60 brands were recycled.
Last year, Dubai Customs organized 10 workshops to introduce new ways of distinguishing between fake and genuine products with the participation of 309 employees, and in Q1, 2021 two workshops were organized for 68 participants.
Musabih further added: “Raising awareness around the hazards of counterfeit products is a priority. We engage all segments of the society including the younger generations through a number of activities and initiatives to impart and promote this IP protection culture.”
Dubai Customs organized 12 IP awareness activities in Q1, 2021 that targeted 1,394 customs staff and students. In 2020, 46 awareness activities were carried out, benefiting 2,358 participants.
On his part, Yousuf Ozair Mubarak, Director of the IPR department, pointed out that Dubai Customs’ teams are in constant communication with US and foreign diplomatic missions to understand their needs and requirements in respect of protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights to ensure the business interests of their fellow national firms. “As such, we are keen to coordinate with trademark owners and rights’ holders to deter any attempts to smuggle counterfeit goods infringing their IP rights in conformity with relevant international regulations.”