Intellectual property protection in Malaysia comprises of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright, geographical indications and layout designs of integrated circuits. Malaysia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and a signatory to the Paris Convention and Berne Convention which govern these intellectual property rights.
In addition, Malaysia is also a signatory to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) signed under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Malaysia provides adequate protection to both local and foreign investors. Malaysia's intellectual property laws are in conformance with international standards and have been reviewed by the TRIPs Council periodically.
The Patents Act 1983 and the Patents Regulations 1986 govern patent protection in Malaysia. An applicant may file a patent application directly if he is domicile or resident in Malaysia. A foreign application can only be filed through a registered patent agent in Malaysia acting on behalf of the applicant.
Similar to legislations in other countries, an invention is patentable if it is new, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable. In accordance with TRIPS, the Patents Act stipulates a protection period of 20 years from the date of filing of an application. Under the Act, the utility innovation certificate provides for an initial duration of ten years protection from the date of filing of the application and renewable for further two consecutive terms of five years each subject to use. The owner of a patent has the right to exploit the patented invention, to assign or transmit the patent, and to conclude a licensed contract.
In accordance with TRIPS, under the scope of compulsory licence, the Act allows for importation of patented products that are already in the other countries' market (parallel import).The Government can prohibit commercial exploitation of patents for reasons of public order or morality. The Act was amended to include provision for Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and to allow importation under the scope of compulsory license.
Malaysia has acceded to the PCT in the year 2006 and effective from 16 August 2006, the PCT International Application can be made at the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO).
Trade mark protection is governed by the Trade Marks Act 1976 and the Trade Marks Regulations 1997.
The Act provides protection for registered trade marks and service marks in Malaysia. Once registered, no person or enterprise other than its proprietor or authorised users may use them. Infringement action can be initiated against abusers. The period of protection is ten years, renewable for a period of every ten years thereafter. The proprietor of the trade mark or service mark has the right to deal or assign as well as to license its use.
In accordance with TRIPS, Malaysia prohibits the registration of well-known trade marks by unauthorised persons and provides for border measures to prohibit counterfeit trade marks from being imported into Malaysia.
Malaysia accedes to the Nice and Vienna Agreements on 28 June 2007 which was enforced on 28 September 2007. Nice Agreement is concerning the International Clasiffication of Goods and Services for the purpose of the registration of marks whereas the Vienna Agreement establishes a classification for marks, which consist of or contain figurative elements. Both agreements are significant to facilitate trade mark registration.
As with patents, while local applicants may file applications on their own, foreign applicants will have to do so through registered trade mark agents.
Industrial design protection in Malaysia is governed by the Industrial Designs Act 1996 and Industrial Designs Regulations 1999. The Act provides the rights of registered industrial designs as that of a personal property capable of assignment and transmission by operation of the law.
To be eligible for registration, industrial designs must be new and do not include a method of construction or design that is dictated solely by function. In addition, the design of the article must not be dependent upon the appearance of another article of which it forms an integral part.
Local applicants can file registrations individually or through a registered industrial designs agent. However, foreign applicants will need to seek the services of a registered industrial designs agent. Registered industrial designs are protected for an initial period of five years which may be extended for another two 5-year terms, providing a total protection period of 15 years.
The Copyright Act 1987 provides comprehensive protection for copyrightable works. The Act outlines the nature of works eligible for copyright (which includes computer programs), the scope of protection, and the manner in which the protection is accorded. There is no registration for copyright works.
Copyright protection for literary, musical or artistic works is for the duration of the life of the author and 50 years after his death. In sound recordings, broadcasts and films, copyright protection is for 50 years after the works are first published or made.
The Act also provides protection for the performer's rights in a live performance which shall continue to subsist for fifty years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the live performance was given.
A unique feature of the Act is the inclusion of provisions for its enforcement. The amendment of the Copyright Act 1987, which was enforced on 1 October 2003 confers power of arrest (including arrest without warrant) to enforcement officers of the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerisme (MDTCC) formerly known as Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. This special team of officers of the MDTCC is appointed to enforce the Act and is empowered to enter premises suspected of having infringing copies and to search and seize infringing copies and contrivances.
The Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits Act 2000 provides for the protection of layout designs of integrated circuits based on originality, creator's own invention and the fact that the creation is freely created. There is no registration for the layout design of an integrated circuit.
The duration of protection is 10 years from the date of its commercial exploitation or 15 years from the date of creation if not commercially exploited. The Act also allows for action to be taken by the owner if such rights recognised under the Act have been infringed. The right can also be transferred either partly or wholly by way of assignment, licence, wills or through the enforcement of law.
The Act is implemented in compliance with the TRIPS Agreement to provide a guarantee to investors in Malaysia's electronics industry and to ensure the growth of technology in the country.
The Geographical Indications Act 2000 provides protection to goods following the name of the place where the goods are produced, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is essitially attributable to their geographical origin. This protection is applicable to goods such as wine and spirit, or natural or agricultural products or any product of handicraft or industry. Geographical indications which are contrary to public order or morality shall not be protected under the Act.
The period of production is 10 years and renewable for a period of 10 years thereafter.
For further information on intellectual property protection please visit http://www.myipo.gov.my.