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UAE Steps Up Intellectual Property Protection: Over 1,000 Illegal Websites Blocked

The move highlights effectiveness of comprehensive measures implemented by Ministry of Economy

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Pavitra Shetty

Published on June 3, 2024, 08:58:23


illegal websites blocked, intellectual property rights, uae cyber laws, intellectual property rights

The UAE has taken significant strides in protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) by blocking over 1,000 illegal websites this year for violating cyber laws. These sites, which illegally broadcasted entertainment content owned by various media networks, were primarily blocked during Ramadan, a period marked by high demand for multimedia content.

According to Dr Abdulrahman Hassan Al Muaini, Assistant Undersecretary for the Intellectual Property Rights Sector at the Ministry of Economy (MoE), “since the implementation of the ‘InstaBlock’ initiative during the holy month of Ramadan, we have blocked a total of 1,117 websites that infringed upon intellectual property rights.”

This is a marked increase from 2023, when only 62 sites were blocked, underscoring the UAE's enhanced approach to IPR protection.

Types of Cybercrimes and Penalties in the UAE

Unauthorised Access:  Gaining unauthorised access to computer systems or networks is a serious offense in the UAE. This includes hacking into systems to steal data or disrupt operations. Penalties for unauthorized access can include imprisonment, fines, or both, depending on the severity of the offense.

Hacking: Hacking involves breaking into computer systems or networks without permission, often to steal or manipulate data. In the UAE, hacking is met with severe penalties, including long-term imprisonment and hefty fines, aimed at deterring such malicious activities.

Phishing: Phishing refers to fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in electronic communications. Phishing activities are punishable by imprisonment and significant fines, reflecting the serious nature of this cybercrime.

Cyber Fraud: Cyber fraud encompasses various deceptive practices carried out online, including identity theft, online scams and financial fraud. The penalties for cyber fraud in the UAE are stringent, including imprisonment and substantial fines, to protect individuals and businesses from financial losses and reputational damage.

Dissemination of Malicious Software

The creation, distribution, or use of malicious software (malware) to harm computer systems, steal data, or disrupt operations is strictly prohibited in the UAE. Offenders can face severe penalties, including long-term imprisonment and substantial fines, to curb the spread of malware and protect cybersecurity.

For a more detailed understanding of these cybercrimes and the specific penalties associated with each, you can read more here.

IPR in UAE: Cornerstone of Innovation and Economic Growth

IPR serves as a cornerstone in protecting creative expressions, technological advancements, and unique brands, fostering innovation and economic growth. In the UAE, the legal framework for IPR encompasses Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents, each playing a crucial role in safeguarding the rights of creators, inventors, and businesses.

Copyrights in the UAE

Governed by Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021, copyright protection in the UAE grants protection to innovative literary, artistic, and scientific creations. Key aspects include:

Definition of Authorship and Joint Authorship: Recognises individuals who create copyrightable works and allows creators of all ages to register their works.
Authorisation for Use of the Work: Copyright owners have exclusive rights over their works and can delegate rights management to professional associations.
Copyright Registration Process: Overseen by the Ministry of Economy’s Department of Copyright, the process is efficient and user-friendly.
Scope of Copyrightable Works: Includes a wide range of creative works such as literary works, software, audio and video creations, and more.
Rights Enjoyed by Copyright Owners: Includes economic and moral rights, lasting 50 years after the author's death.
Penalties for Infringement: Strict penalties for violations, including imprisonment and fines.

Trademarks in the UAE

Trademark protection is governed by Federal Decree-Law No. 36/2021, providing a robust framework for the registration, protection, and enforcement of trademarks. Key aspects include:

Definition of Trademark: Includes signs, names, words, symbols, and more that distinguish goods or services.Trademark Registration Process:Managed by the Ministry of Economy, the process is accessible and covers multiple categories.
Trademark Protection Period and Renewal: Trademarks are protected for ten years and can be renewed.
Cancellation and Disputes: These can be brought before the Competent Court or resolved through the Trademarks Grievances Committee.
Assignment, Transfer, and Licensing: Trademarks can be assigned, transferred, or licensed.

Patents in the UAE

Patent protection is governed by Federal Law No. 11/2021, ensuring the protection of intellectual property rights related to inventions. Key aspects include:

Patent Validity and Examination: Requires formal and substantive examinations for novelty, inventive steps, and industrial applicability.
Patentability Requirements: Inventions must meet specific criteria and certain categories are excluded.
Patent Registration Process: Involves application submission, fee payment, and compliance with regulations.
Rights and Duration: Patents are protected for twenty years from the application filing date.
Patent Licensing and Transfer: Can be licensed or transferred to others, subject to registration.

Enhancing IPR Protection: Initiatives and Technologies

The UAE's proactive stance on IPR protection, highlighted by the significant increase in blocked websites, is part of a broader strategy to foster a secure and fair digital environment.

The 'InstaBlock' initiative provides a specialized instant response service for copyright infringement complaints, demonstrating the ministry's capability to act swiftly and decisively. Additionally, tools like 'LiveBan' are designed to handle live online broadcasting infringements.

By leveraging advanced technologies and a robust legal framework, the UAE aims to safeguard the interests of content creators and media networks, ensuring their works are protected from unauthorised use and distribution. This approach helps preserve the economic value of creative works and promotes a culture of respect for intellectual property rights.


The UAE's efforts to block over 1,000 illegal websites this year, particularly during Ramadan, underscore the country's commitment to intellectual property protection. The significant increase in blocked sites compared to last year highlights the effectiveness of the comprehensive measures implemented by the Ministry of Economy.

These efforts are crucial in maintaining a fair and secure digital ecosystem, protecting the rights of content creators, and promoting the legal and ethical consumption of multimedia content.

The UAE’s robust legal framework for Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents continues to foster innovation, creativity and economic growth, reinforcing its position as a global hub for creativity and the knowledge economy.

For any enquiries or information, contact ask@tlr.ae or call us on +971 52 644 3004Follow The Law Reporters on WhatsApp Channels.