Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
5.Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
The Malaysian intellectual property regime affords protection via an extensive statutory
scheme covering intellectual property rights including copyright, trade marks, designs,
patents and layout designs of integrated circuits in compliance with Malaysia’s obligation
as a signatory to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS).
Malaysia has acceded to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the Paris Convention
for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary
and Artistic works, as well as the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
The Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) is a statutory body established to,
among others, generally assist in the administration and enforcement of intellectual property
laws and issues or matters relating to intellectual property.
The Copyright Act 1987 and its regulations govern the law on copyright in Malaysia. Malaysia
acceded to the Berne Convention on 1 October 1990.
The types of works protected by copyright in Malaysia are literary, musical and artistic works,
films, sound recordings and broadcasts. Derivative works are also protected. The owner of
the copyright in a literary, musical or artistic work, a film, a sound recording or a derivative
work has the exclusive right to control certain acts in these works, including reproduction,
and communication, performance or distribution to the public, either in its original or
Copyright protection in literary, musical or artistic works is for the duration of the life of the
author plus 50 years after death. There is no requirement for registration. Civil remedies are
available to a copyright owner whose copyright is infringed. Malaysia also imposes criminal
penalties for violations of its copyright laws.
Patent law in Malaysia is governed by the Patents Act 1983 and the Patent Regulations
1986. The owner of a patent has the exclusive rights, in relation to the patent, to exploit the
patented invention, assign or transmit the patent, or to conclude licensee contracts. Anyone
seeking to deal with the patent where the rights are exclusive to the owner will need to get
prior consent from the latter.
The accession by Malaysia to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) means that Malaysia is a
designated country in respect of a patent application filed in another contracting state on
or after 16 August 2006. Malaysia will also be automatically designated for a request for
international preliminary examination as regards an application filed in another contracting
state. Malaysian applicants themselves will be able to elect for PCT applications where the
same treatment will be according to them as with applicants from contracting states.
Trade marks are accorded protection under the law both under common law and by
registration pursuant to the Trade Marks Act 1976 and Trade Marks Regulations 1997. Trade
marks which are either pending registration, or for which no application for registration have
been made, are protected under the common law provided the owner of such unregistered
marks can show proof of goodwill and reputation in the use of the said marks in relation to
goods or services.
The registration of a trade mark will be for a period of 10 years but may be renewed from
time to time in perpetuity. Upon registration of a trade mark, the proprietor has the exclusive
right to use the trade mark in relation to those goods or services subject to any conditions,
amendments, modifications or limitations entered in the Register of Trade Marks.
The Register of Trade Marks is kept at the Central Trade Marks Office. Inspection of the
Register can be made at the Trade Mark Office during office hours upon payment of a
The Industrial Designs Act 1996 and Industrial Designs Regulations 1999 apply to applications
for the registration of industrial designs made after 1 September 1999.
The owner on a registered industrial design will have the exclusive right to make or import
for sale or hire or for use for the purposes of any trade or business, or to sell, hire or to
offer or expose for sale or hire any article to which the registered industrial design has been
applied. Once registered, the rights associated with an industrial design will be that of a
personal property in that it will be capable of assignment and transmission by operation of
law. Registered designs are protected for an initial period of 5 years which may be extended
to a further two 5 years terms, resulting in a total period of 15 years.
Layout-designs of Integrated Circuits
The Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Act 2000 provides for the protection of layout
designs of integrated circuits based on originality, the creator’s own invention and the fact
that the creation is freely created.
No registration is needed. The Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Act grants automatically
to the owner of an original circuit layout certain rights to copy the layout, make an integrated
circuit in accordance with the layout and exploit the layout commercially. The rights can
be transferred either partly or wholly by way of assignment, license, wills or through the
enforcement of law.
The duration of protection is 10 years from the date of commercial exploitation or 15 years
from the date of creation if not commercially exploited.