In the perfect case scenario the trade names should be unique. Even if there are two companies with different activities, they should not share the same trade name.
Nevertheless, the trade names of businesses in the UAE might be duplicated not only in case when a common ownership of companies is proven. Thus, in the case of a trade name being registered in one Emirate, it is possible to maintain or use the same name in another Emirate in the UAE.
There is a solid database for the UAE companies and their activities on the federal level, however the UAE has nearly half a million companies registered with licensing authorities of the seven emirates and duplication of trade names often leaves foreign investors at a loss about which entity they are dealing with.
A trade name may be easily booked for one year renewable period, against payment of due fees. It can be also maintained after a license has been cancelled and that shall be against payment of a Dhs. 200 fee to keep the name for one year only.
The only strong way to protect completely your intellectual property, including the name is a trade mark registration.
The UAE is a member of international bodies, treaties and conventions that safeguard intellectual property, including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), World Trade Organization (WTO), Paris Convention, Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), WIPO Copyright Treaty, WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and the Rome Convention.
According to the UAE Law, a trademark is anything which takes a distinctive form whether names, words, signatures, letters, figures, drawings, symbols, titles, tax stamps, seals, pictures, inscriptions, advertisements or packs or any other mark or a combination thereof, used or is intended to be used, either in distinguishing goods, products or services whatever their origin is, or to show that goods or products are owned by the mark owner by virtue of their manufacture, selection or dealing in, or to indicate the performance of a service. Sound is considered a part of the trademark if it accompanies thereto.
The registration and maintenance of a trade mark, as well as advertisements in which the mark is displayed require a significant investment. The use of a mark that is identical and confusingly similar to one already owned by another party would also expose the company to litigation. It would, therefore, be prudent to determine whether any conflicting trademarks already exist before such an investment is made.
However, once a trade mark is registered, all of its distinctive elements will be protected whether used separately or together.
The trade mark protection in the UAE lasts 10 years and it is renewable.