Priority Rights in the UAE Patent System: Aligning with the Paris Convention

The Paris Convention, to which the UAE is a signatory, provides a framework for recognizing the priority of an earlier filing in another country—a fundamental feature of international patent law, for the protection of industrial property. 

 The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has rapidly emerged as a global hub for innovation and technological advancement. In line with its aspirations, the country has developed a robust patent system that encourages inventors and innovators to protect their intellectual property. One key aspect of the UAE patent system is the concept of priority rights, which plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the interests of inventors and ensuring a fair and equitable environment for patent applications. 

Understanding Priority Rights 

Priority rights, in the context of patents, refer to the ability of an applicant to claim the filing date of an earlier application when submitting a subsequent application for the same invention. This mechanism is a fundamental feature of international patent law, as outlined in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. The Paris Convention, to which the UAE is a signatory, provides a framework for recognizing the priority of an earlier filing in another country. 

The primary purpose of priority rights is to offer inventors a grace period within which they can assess the market potential of their invention before deciding to file for a patent. This period allows inventors to explore potential markets and secure funding without the fear of losing their patent rights to others who might file similar applications. 

Priority Rights in the UAE 

In the UAE, priority rights play a significant role in the patent application process. When an inventor files a patent application in the UAE within 12 months of filing a similar application in a Paris Convention member country, they are entitled to claim priority based on the earlier application’s filing date. This means that for the purpose of determining novelty and assessing prior art, the UAE Patent Office will consider the invention’s filing date in the earlier application. 

To claim priority rights in the UAE, certain requirements must be met. Firstly, the applicant must provide a certified copy of the earlier application along with a verified translation in Arabic if the original is not in that language. Additionally, the application in the UAE must be for the same invention as the one described in the earlier application. While modifications are allowed, the core concept and technical features of the invention must remain consistent. 

Advantages of Priority Rights 

The incorporation of priority rights into the UAE patent system offers several advantages to inventors, innovators, and the overall business landscape: 

  1. Protection Against Loss of Rights: Priority rights provide a safety net to inventors who may need more time to fully develop their invention or explore market opportunities. This safeguards their ability to eventually file a patent application without fear of losing the rights to their invention. 
  2. Reduced Risk of Invalidity: By allowing inventors to claim priority based on an earlier filing, the UAE patent system helps reduce the risk of invalidity due to intervening prior art. This encourages more accurate assessments of novelty and inventive step. 
  3. Encouragement of Innovation: Priority rights foster a supportive environment for innovation by offering inventors the freedom to explore opportunities without rushing into patent applications. This leads to a more thoughtful and refined patent filing process. 
  4. Simplified Application Process: Leveraging priority rights simplifies the application process for inventors. They can build upon their earlier application, avoiding redundant paperwork and streamlining the patent filing procedure. 
  5. Global Expansion: Inventors seeking patent protection in multiple countries can strategically use priority rights to stagger their patent filings in various jurisdictions. This facilitates a cost-effective approach to global patent protection. 

Challenges and Considerations 

While priority rights offer substantial benefits, there are certain challenges and considerations that applicants should be aware of: 

  1. Stringent Timelines: The 12-month window to claim priority is strict. Applicants must ensure that their subsequent application is filed within this timeframe to avail of priority rights. 
  2. Uniformity of Invention: While modifications are allowed, inventors must ensure that the core essence of the invention remains consistent between the earlier and subsequent applications to claim priority. 
  3. Translation Requirements: Providing certified copies and translated versions of earlier applications can involve administrative complexities, especially when dealing with applications filed in different languages. 
  4. Market Assessment: The grace period provided by priority rights should be used judiciously for assessing the market potential and refining the invention. Inventors must strike a balance between market exploration and timely patent filing. 

Priority rights are an essential component of the UAE patent system, empowering inventors to make informed decisions about patent protection while encouraging innovation and market exploration. By aligning with international standards and the provisions of the Paris Convention, the UAE has created an environment that supports inventors in their pursuit of protecting their intellectual property. With the rapid technological advancements and the growing emphasis on intellectual property rights, priority rights will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the UAE’s innovation landscape.  


The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the respective authors. ATB Legal does not endorse these opinions. While we make every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the information provided in our blogs, inaccuracies may occur due to changes in the legislative landscape or human errors. It is important to note that ATB Legal does not assume any responsibility for actions taken based on the information presented in these blogs. We strongly recommend verifying information from official sources and consulting with professional advisors to ensure its accuracy and relevance to your specific circumstances.

About ATB Legal

ATB Legal is a full-service legal consultancy in the UAE providing services in dispute resolution (DIFC Courts, ADGM Courts, mainland litigation management and Arbitrations), corporate and commercial matters, IP, business set up and UAE taxation. We also have a personal law department providing advice on marriage, divorce and wills & estate planning for expats.

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by Saniya Mariam Thomas

Saniya is a legal consultant at ATB Legal. She is a law graduate from Calicut University, earned her master’s from Christ University, Bangalore, and is enrolled with the Bar Council of Kerala. She has earned several prizes in national and international moot court competitions.

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