UAE Modernises Trademark Laws to Include Sound Marks

The UAE Federal Decree-Law (36) of 2021 defines a trademark, encompassing various forms of visual and auditory identifiers, and explicitly mentions “a distinctive sound”, signalling the UAE’s readiness to modernise its trademarks laws.

In the dynamic landscape of global commerce, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands as a beacon of progress, continually refining its legal framework to foster economic growth and attract international investment. Central to this endeavour is the recognition and adaptation of international best practices, particularly in the realm of intellectual property law. With the enactment of Federal Decree-Law (36) of 2021, which governs the trademarks regime in the UAE, the country has taken a significant step forward in this direction, modernising its laws to meet the evolving needs of its vibrant economy.

The Evolution of Trademark Law in the UAE

The UAE’s trademark law has undergone a transformative journey, guided by the principles of innovation and global alignment. The recent decree, which replaces the Federal Decree-Law (37) of 1992, reflects a progressive approach to governance, aiming to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of intellectual property rights.

Incorporating Non-Traditional Marks: The Case of Sound Marks

One of the notable features of the new decree is its recognition of non-traditional marks, including sound marks. Article 2 of the decree defines a trademark broadly, encompassing various forms of visual and auditory identifiers. Notably, the definition explicitly includes “a distinctive sound,” signalling the UAE’s readiness to embrace innovative forms of branding.

Criteria for Registration of Sound Marks

While the inclusion of sound marks in the definition of trademarks opens new avenues for branding, it also imposes certain requisites for registration. Applicants seeking to register a sound mark must provide a digital audio sample, a graphic representation of the sound, and an accurate description thereof. Moreover, substantial evidence demonstrating the distinctiveness of the sound mark is essential, including sales figures, advertising materials, and evidence of registration in other jurisdictions.

International Precedents and Recognised Sound Marks

The global landscape provides numerous examples of well-recognised sound marks that have secured statutory protection in various jurisdictions. From the iconic NBC chimes to the resonant notes of Intel’s “Intel Inside” jingle, these sound marks serve as prime examples of how auditory branding can become synonymous with a company’s identity.

Embracing Innovation in Trademark Law

In embracing sound marks within its trademark regime, the UAE demonstrates its commitment to fostering innovation and protecting intellectual property rights. By modernising its laws to reflect global best practices, the UAE not only strengthens its legal infrastructure but also positions itself as an attractive destination for businesses seeking to safeguard their investments in trade and commerce. As businesses continue to innovate and diversify their branding strategies, the inclusion of sound marks underscores the UAE’s readiness to adapt to the changing dynamics of the global marketplace.


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