Copyrights are property rights related to works created by authors. They protect visual art, musical and dramatic works, films, literature, published works, broadcasts, computer programs, performers’ rights, and sound recordings. Copyrights are possessed by either the author, employer, or commissioner of the work. The author has the right to have the author’s name identified as the author of the work based on the moral right. The moral right protects a work against distortion, mutilation, or any unauthorized modification.
Legal protection for copyrighted works in Malaysia is provided by the Copyright Act 1987. It is enforced by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. Arrests, with or without warrant, may be made due to the violation of the Copyright Act. The Malaysian Copyright Act grants copyright protection during the life of the author as well as during a period spanning the 50 years after the author’s death. Unpublished work is legally protected for 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the publication date.
In Malaysia, there is no formal requirement for a certain work to be registered in order for a copyright to be claimed or recognized. A copyright owner may, however, voluntarily register the work in question. Foreign businesses planning to register are advised to do so in case of future legal disputes which may arise.
The applicant for a copyright must be a Malaysian citizen or a permanent resident. The applicant must first determine whether the work is an original or derivative work. The applicant is then to fill a standard form known as Form CR-1.
Patents and Utility Innovations
The purpose of a patent is to permit the creation of a solution to a specific problem by way of a new invention technology. However, the following items cannot be patented in Malaysia:
- Discoveries, scientific theories, and mathematical methods
- Plant or animal varieties or biological processes other than processes pertaining to human-made living microorganisms
- Methods, schemes, or rules for the conducting of business, playing of games, or performing of mental acts
- Methods for the treatment of a human or animal body by way of surgery or therapy
Diagnostic methods practiced on a human or animal body
Utility innovations are exclusive rights for minor inventions. They differ from patents. They can be registered for any improvement of an existing process or product. Only one claim is allowed per application.
Any individual or corporation is allowed to register for a patent or utility innovation. This includes non-citizens and non-Malaysian corporations. However, any foreign entity planning to register patents will have to do so through a registered trademark agent. These applications are to be submitted at the MyIPO office. The MyIPO office also serves as the receiving office for the international filling of Patent Cooperation Treaty applications. The fee for such registrations is RM1,490. Many businesses hire either a patent attorney or patent drafter in order to ensure that all information during registration is accurate.
An applicant must request for one of two options within 18 months from the date of filing. The first of these is a request for a substantive examination. The second is a request for a modified substantive examination.
Patent protection in Malaysia lasts for 20 years from the date of filing. The duration of protection offered by a utility innovation certificate is 10 years from the date of application. It is extendable for another two consecutive five-year terms by filing a formal extension request.
Industrial designs are defined as the aesthetic elements of an industrial object. The design may be of three-dimensional features such as the shape and configuration of an article. It may also include two-dimensional features such as patterns and imprinted images. The Industrial Designs Act and Industrial Designs Regulations govern industrial designs in Malaysia.
When one attempts to register an industrial design in Malaysia, the designs are required to be new and must not include a method of construction or design which is only defined by its function. The designs must also not be dependent upon the appearance of another article to which they are integral. Foreign applicants will have to seek the services of a registered industrial designs agent. Local applicants, on the other hand, are allowed to register individually.
Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits
In Malaysia, the rights regarding layout designs of integrated circuits are based on their originality. There is no registration required for the ownership of the layout designs of an integrated circuit. Legal protection lasts either 10 years from the date of commercial exploitation or 15 years from the date of creation if it is not commercially exploited. The laws of Malaysia allow the owner to take action should the owner’s legal rights be violated.
Malaysia’s Geographical Act 2000 provides protection to goods in line with the name of the place where the goods were produced. Such goods which are protected are those of which a particular quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the goods can be attributed to their geographical origin. Natural and agricultural products, handicrafts, and industrial products may all be protected by the Geographical Act.
Local applicants may either register individually or through a registered geographical indication agent. However, foreign applicants must utilize the services of a registered geographical indication agent. Rights over geographical indications last for a period of 10 years; this period is also renewable. Each renewal extends the duration by 10 more years.
Everyone, whether local or foreign, who plans to start a business in Malaysia should make use of the ample intellectual property rights with which they are provided. The availability of local intellectual property valuers will also assist these business owners by allowing them to save on the cost and complexity of appointing foreign IP valuers. This would therefore make such valuers more accessible to owners of businesses. In this way, such owners will ultimately benefit from an increased level of access and visibility within the Malaysian business sphere.
The government of Malaysia has also instituted mechanism intended to strengthen the intellectual property ecosystem in the country. Doing so would thus ensure a healthy flow of supply and demand and supply of intellectual property. MyIPO has also entered into strategic partnerships with intellectual property marketplaces of other countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
Should you plan to start a business in Malaysia and thus make use of these intellectual property rights, we at Paul Hype Page & Co will be of assistance to you. Our incorporation team will take you through the incorporation process so that your Malaysia-based company will be set up in the proper manner. We will also manage any licensing matters on your behalf, should you require any such licenses.