IP and Patents Services
Intellectual property (IP) is a fairly wide term that generally refers to creations of the mind, in all the variety of ways that these might manifest. IP is often a client’s most valuable asset, as it’s frequently what sets them apart from competing businesses. This part of business law incentivises entrepreneurs to grow without fearing that their initiative could be threatened. Intellectual property comes in two forms:
- Industrial Property that includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications.
- Copyright that covers literary works, films, music, artistic works, and architectural design.
Intellectual Property and Malta
Intellectual property owners have been protected by Maltese legislation since 1911 in respect of Copyright, and since 1899 in relation to inventions, trademarks and designs. The Industrial Property Registrations Directorate (IPRD) handles all IP policy on the national and international level. It carries out the review and analysis of all documentation relating to IP topics being discussed in any forum. It’s also responsible for the registration, certification, issuing, renewing, and recording of all matters concerning IP.
Maltese IP legislation is robust and well established, resting on three main Acts:
- The Patent and Designs Act. In 2007 Malta became a member of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and the European Patent Office which provide for the protection of patents on an international and regional basis respectively.
- The Copyright Act. In 2009, Malta also acceded to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.
- The Trademark Act. As of May 2019 new legislation came into force in Malta. This was a direct result of the European Union’s reform across the entire breathe of trademark legislation, which was imposed on all Member States.
On application the IPRD checks whether a similar or identical trademark already exists, and processing time usually takes from 8 months to 1 year. A successful trademark is registered for ten years from the date of registration and can be renewed. Patents are dealt with in a similar way, but these are valid for 20 years from the filing date of the application. Successful patent holders also have the additional right to prevent third parties from making or selling a product incorporating the subject matter of the patent or the use of such a product. There’s also the possibility of obtaining a Supplementary Patent Certificate (SPC), which grants a maximum of 5 years of further protection over and above the standard term.
Intellectual Property and the European Union
Malta’s membership in the European Union means that all European Union Trademarks are applicable to Malta and have protection in Malta, forming a part of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). A European Trademark is registered at the EUIPO, upon which applicants enjoy the protection of their trademark throughout the EU, meaning that the owner is given protection for all EU member states in one single application. It is important to note that while Malta trademarks and patents have the same scope of application, the European Patent is different from the European Union Trademark, both in substance (one is a patent and one is a trademark), and also in the way they function in relation to the rest of the EU Member States. While an EU Trademark is automatically valid in all EU Member States, a European Patent, contrastingly, does not grant a unitary right – what it grants is a set of independent national patents. Therefore, a European patent application designating Malta which has been accorded a filing date, shall be equivalent to a regular national application, where appropriate and certain steps are required for such patent to be validated in Malta.
How AE Legal can help
AE Legal’s primary objective is to thoroughly understand the client’s business, idea or creation. It’s only once we’re clear on every aspect and functionality that we can ensure a clear and lasting path for continued creativity. Our results are driven by the objective of fulfilling the client’s business needs. AE Legal’s experience spans a breadth of industries, making us perfectly placed to guide you toward maximum protection for your intellectual property. Our services include registrations and renewals of trademarks and patents, infringement prevention advice, litigation and arbitration, negotiation and mediation in the event of dispute. Our team is fully equipped to assist you in identical and similarity of IP across both Malta and OHIM searches.