A registered trademark not only provides an identity to the business but it also induces confidence in the customer regarding the qualitative superiority of the product. In literal terms, “unfair competition” refers to the adoption of unfair or dishonest practices to gain an edge over the competitors. This term is widely used in the context of trademark law and mainly relates to the practice of making benefits by using someone else’s well established name, logo and identity through a fraudulent manner.
In the UAE, unfair competition is strictly curbed with a motive to encourage the principle of justice and fairness. The distinguished identity of a business must be protected from the bad eyes of the competitors.
Examples of Unfair Competition
There are a catena of examples wherein the trademark law is violated to derive some unjust benefit. The most common example is when a product is sold by using the the competitor’s trademark logo.
Further, it is also witnessed that, the offending party generally makes a very little change in the name or in the style of the trademark and uses it for their own product. The naive customers fail to distinguish the duplicate trademark with the original one; thereby, purchase the product. Similarly, using the mark of the seller on the purchased product, (which originally was not affixed) is also a violation of trademark.
In UAE, the Federal Law No. 37 of 1992 deals with all the facets of trademarks. As per the law, the following incidents will be construed as a violation of trademarks
- If a registered trademark is misrepresented or imitated with an objective of misleading the normal public.
- Using someone else’s trademark for buying, selling or engaging in any other commercial activities.
- Unlawfully inscribing on one’s mark, papers or commercial documents.
In UAE, one of the special characteristics is that the case of unfair competition and trademark violation can be made in a single lawsuit.
An aggrieved party has 3 legal mechanisms to seek justice.
- It could file a civil suit asking for an injunction, precautionary attachment, or compensation regarding the loss. For determining whether there is trademark infringement or not, the court generally takes into consideration the visual, phonetics and conceptual similarities of marks.
- The aggrieved party can also file a criminal case as the trademark infringement attracts penal liabilities. The offender can be punished with an imprisonment of 1 year or fine or both. Further, the business can be closed for a period between 15 days to 6 months.
- In UAE, the concepts of trademark recordation and custom seizure are recognised. A complaint can be filed before the custom by the original trademark holder.
However, with respect to trademark violation, there is another aspect also. It is imperative to note that this law only protects distinguished business identities and never intended to discourage business activities in the country. But, some large companies have made their monopolies with their trademark and they start proceedings against a company, whose trademarks have a very little or even no resemblance with the original one. This prolonged litigation acts as a hindrance for a firm, which has just started its operation.
If you get to know that someone else is using your trademark to gain some unjust advantage, quickly visit a lawyer and initiate proceedings regarding it.