Malaysia’s IP Monetization strategy

There is a report three weeks ago about Malaysia’s “IP Monetization” program as articulated by PM Najib Razak.

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From that news,  “We need to be competitive in our bid to become a high-income nation that is not dependent on traditional and physical resources but is based on new sources of wealth such as intellectual property.

“To ensure the country’s continued momentum in making intellectual property a new source of wealth, we have a responsibility to be more innovative and creative as well as to constantly create value added in order to come up with high-impact products and technologies for the local and global markets,” he said at the National Intellectual Property Awards 2015 today.

Najib, who is also finance minister, said the effectiveness of initiatives to strengthen the national intellectual property ecosystem was shown by the 6% average annual rise in applications.

This shows the potential of intellectual property to contribute to national economic growth, he said, adding the government had agreed to consider providing an allocation to encourage intellectual property rights applications as part of efforts to raise the number of registrations. Some 42% of intellectual property rights applications are from within the country.

Well and good. Kuala Lumpur is just 4 hours away by car from Singapore, the center of IPR protection and the richest economy in the ASEAN. The interdependence between  the two  in  trade and investments, both physical and non-physical/intellectual commodities, is high.

More and more, the world is moving towards high value products and services production and trade. New mobile  phones, flat or curved tv, other appliances and  furnitures with sleek, modern  or exotic designs, etc. are all guided by new ideas that were non-existent  and  unimaginable just a few decades ago. And these ideas are protected by various forms of IP protection — patent, copyright, trademark, service mark, industrial designs, circuit designs — to protect the innovators and inventive people and enterprises from copycat ones.

The program or strategy is good, except that PM Razak is still embroiled in a huge corruption scandal that greatly diminishes his credibility and effectivity in initiating new programs.

On a related note, I saw from a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website the various IP laws and IP-related laws of Malaysia.

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They have a law for each type of IP. Being a non-lawyer, I am not sure if this is better than a single, big and long law that covers all types of IP that we have here, the IP Code of the Philippines (RA 8293) enacted in 1997. One advantage of one law for each type of IP perhaps is that if we revise or amend in the future one aspect, say only the patent system or copyright system, it will not affect the whole big law — and cause some confusion.

I saw from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) website about Patent, it says,

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.

… 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).

So, similar to the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008 (RA 9502) of the Philippines, Malaysia allows CL, Special CL and “international exhaustion” of patent via parallel importation, even though patent application and granting is not  international but national, specific to each country where a patented drug molecule or product has been applied for.

Nonetheless, establishing clear property rights for the people, physical or non-physical property, is one of  the most important functions of any government. More important than endless welfarism and  political populism.

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