Intellectual Property Malaysia

Intellectual property protection in Malaysia comprises that of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyrights, geographical indications and layout designs of integrated circuits. Malaysia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (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 Organization (WTO). Therefore, Malaysia's intellectual property laws are in conformance with international standards and provide adequate protection to both local and foreign investors.
The Patents Act 1983 and the Patents Regulations 1996 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 Patent 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. 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.
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.
As with patents, while local applicants may file applications on their own, foreign applicants will have to do so through authorised 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 ust 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 software), the scope of protection, and the manner in which the protection is accorded. There is no registration of copyright works.
Copyright protection in 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. A special team of officers is appointed to enforce the Act and empowered to enter premises suspected of having infringing copies and to search and seize infringing copies and contrivances.
The Layout Design of Integrated Circuit 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 a right recognised under the Act has 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 upon registration to goods following the name of the place where the goods are produced. This protection is applicable to goods such as wine, agricultural products and handicraft. Geographical indications which are contrary to public order or morality shall not be protected under the Act. Actions, penalties and remedies concerning infringement of geographical indications are similar to those applicable for trade marks.
Further information on intellectual property protection can be obtained from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs
27th, 30-33rd Floor
Menara Dayabumi
Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin
506623 Kuala Lumpur