Malaysian Intellectual Property Laws: A guide for E-commerce brands

Table of Contents

Get the latest e-commerce industry news, best practices, and product updates!

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Starting or expanding a business in a new country like Malaysia is a promising venture, but it comes with a vital requirement: understanding the country’s Intellectual Property (IP) laws. Malaysia’s unique IP laws demand attention, as overlooking these laws can have significant consequences for businesses. 

Intellectual property, including trademarks, patents, and copyrights, serves as the bedrock of brand identity and innovation and safeguards your ideas from becoming someone else’s. For companies operating in the dynamic e-commerce industry of Malaysia, safeguarding IP rights is paramount. It ensures the protection of proprietary technologies, branding assets, and creative works. 

This comprehensive guide dives into Malaysia’s IP regulations, providing invaluable insights into trademark and patent registration processes. We also explore how these laws impact your logistics and 3PL business. Join us as we take a quick look at the IP laws in Malaysia.

Overview of IP Laws in Malaysia

Malaysia has a robust Intellectual Property (IP) law framework that is on par with international standards. These laws primarily encompass trademarks, patents, copyrights, industrial designs, and trade secrets. The key governing body responsible for administering and regulating IP in Malaysia is the Malaysian Intellectual Property Corporation (MyIPO).

  • Trademarks: Malaysia adheres to the Trade Marks Act 2019 and the Trademark Regulations 2019, providing protection for distinctive signs, logos, and symbols used to identify goods and services.
  • Patents: Patents in Malaysia are governed by the Patents Act 1983, offering protection for inventions that are new, inventive, and industrially applicable.
  • Copyrights: The Copyright Act 1987 safeguards literary, artistic, and musical works, ensuring creators’ rights.
  • Industrial Designs: Design rights are protected under the Industrial Designs Act 1996, covering the aesthetic aspects of products.
  • Trade Secrets: Malaysia recognises the importance of trade secrets, offering protection through various legal means, including contractual agreements and the common law.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll dive deeper into each aspect of IP law, exploring registration processes, enforcement, and strategies to secure your intellectual property effectively in Malaysia as an e-commerce business owner.

Trademarks in Malaysia

​​In Malaysian business landscape, trademarks are your company’s visual signature, fostering brand recognition and trust. They serve as your unique identifier, setting you apart from competitors. Beyond branding, trademarks are crucial for safeguarding your company’s identity and reputation.

Now, let’s look at the process of registering your trademark in Malaysia, ensuring your brand is protected effectively:

  1. Search Availability: Verify the uniqueness of your trademark to avoid conflicts by running a search on the MyIPO website.
  2. Choose Classifications: Determine the relevant classes of goods/services and supplementary information.
  3. File Application with MyIPO: Initiate the registration process with the Malaysian Intellectual Property Corporation.
  4. Examination of application by MyIPO: MyIPO conducts a thorough review of your application. You will receive communication if the examiners raise any objections, along with steps to resolve them. E-commerce business owners can also choose to expedite the approval process through a written request.
  5. Publication: Upon approval, your trademark is published in the government gazette.
  6. Opposition Period: Allow a 2-month window for potential opposition.
  7. Certificate of Registration: After a smooth process, you receive your Certificate of Registration.

Bonus: Renewal, Enforcement and Maintenance: A trademark has to be renewed every 10 years. In addition, to maintain a trademark, one has to pay certain fees and update the contact information.

Benefits and limitations of trademark protection

Understanding the benefits and limitations is crucial as you navigate the trademark registration process in Malaysia for an e-commerce business. It’s vital to securing your brand’s identity and value in the market. Read along as we look at the most important pros and cons of registering a trademark in Malaysia.

  • Benefits of Trademark Protection in Malaysia:
    • Exclusive Rights: Trademark registration grants exclusive rights, allowing your e-commerce business sole use and protection of the mark in Malaysia.
    • Brand Recognition: A registered trademark enhances brand recognition, fostering trust and customer loyalty in the competitive Malaysian market.
    • Legal Recourse: With a registered trademark, you have the legal grounds to take action against infringers, safeguarding your brand’s integrity.
    • Asset Value: Your trademark holds substantial business value and can be a valuable asset when it comes to partnerships, franchising, mergers, or licensing agreements.
  • Limitation of Trademark Protection in Malaysia:
    • Limited Geographical Scope: Trademark protection is confined to Malaysia, offering no international coverage without separate registrations.
    • Expiration: Trademarks require periodic renewal, adding to the administrative workload and costs. A late fee is incurred if the applicant misses the renewal deadline.
    • Narrow Protection: Trademarks are limited to the specific classes of goods or services they are registered under, leaving other areas vulnerable. You can verify the classes of goods eligible for trademarking in the MyIPO website.
    • Costs: The expenses associated with trademark registration and maintenance, including renewal fees, can be substantial.

Experience fulfillment by Locad today!

Patents in Malaysia

Patents grant inventors exclusive rights, incentivising innovation and ensuring that groundbreaking inventions are duly recognised and protected. They protect the fruits of innovation and encourage further research and development. For e-commerce businesses in Malaysia, securing patents is an investment in long-term competitiveness and profitability. Patents offer the following benefits:

  • Protection of Innovations: Patents provide a legal shield, preventing others from using, making, or selling your invention without permission.
  • Incentive for Investment: Patents attract investment as they assure investors of exclusivity and potential returns on innovative projects.
  • Market Advantage: A patented invention can grant your business a competitive edge by offering unique products or processes.

In Malaysia, patent rights are protected for a duration of 20 years from the filing date, granting ample time to capitalise on your innovation. To ensure effective enforcement, businesses must be vigilant in promptly detecting and addressing patent infringements. Malaysian law provides mechanisms to seek legal remedies against infringers, reinforcing the importance of patent protection in fostering innovation and economic growth.

Copyrights in Malaysia

Creative content reigns supreme in the digital age of e-commerce, making copyright protection more vital than ever. Copyrights secure the rights of creators and content owners. In addition to this, they contribute to the following:

  • Protecting Creative Works and Content: Copyrights safeguard original content, including articles, images, videos, and music, from unauthorised reproduction and distribution in the bustling e-commerce landscape.
  • Fostering Innovation: Copyright protection encourages continuous creation and innovation in the digital sphere, ensuring that sellers can sell products with prior permission

Moreover, Malaysian copyright law recognises the concept of “fair use” but within specific limitations. Exceptions include educational use, research, criticism, and news reporting. Understanding these exceptions is crucial to navigating the fine line between protected content and permissible use.

Benefits of copyright registration

Understanding the multifaceted role of copyrights and the benefits of registration empowers content creators and e-commerce businesses to thrive in Malaysia’s digital ecosystem while safeguarding their creative assets. Here are a few other advantages of copyright protection.

  • Legal Protection: Copyright registration establishes a legal presumption of ownership and copyright rights, offering a robust defence in case of infringement disputes.
  • Evidence in Court: Registration provides concrete evidence in court, simplifying the process of proving ownership and protecting your content.
  • Enforceable Rights: With a registered copyright, you have enforceable rights, enabling you to take legal action against infringers.
  • Potential for Royalties and Licensing Income: Copyright registration opens avenues for generating royalties and licensing income by permitting others to use your work for a fee.
  • Global Recognition: Registered copyrights enjoy global recognition, reinforcing protection beyond Malaysian borders.

Trade Secrets and Confidential Information

Trade secrets and confidential information are the lifeblood of many e-commerce enterprises. Safeguarding these valuable assets is paramount to maintain a competitive edge and protect business interests.

Trade secrets can provide a significant competitive advantage by keeping proprietary information out of competitors’ hands. E-commerce businesses in Malaysia may have a number of trade secrets that require protection, such as customer lists, pricing strategies, marketing plans, proprietary software, business processes and product formulas. Protection of confidential information also encourages innovation and investment in research and development.

Malaysia recognises the importance of trade secrets and confidential information protection, primarily through the common law and contractual means, such as Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). These mechanisms help businesses maintain confidentiality and protect against unauthorised disclosure.

However, in cases of trade secret violations, businesses have legal remedies available, including:

  • Injunctions: Courts can issue injunctions to prevent further disclosure or use of trade secrets.
  • Damages: Businesses may seek monetary damages for losses suffered due to trade secret violations.
  • Account of Profits: Courts can order the wrongdoer to account for any profits earned from the misuse of trade secrets.
  • Criminal Actions: In extreme cases, trade secret theft can lead to criminal prosecution.

Understanding the significance of trade secret protection and the available legal remedies empowers businesses in Malaysia to safeguard their confidential information effectively while promoting innovation and competitiveness.

Enforcement of IP Rights

Safeguarding your Intellectual Property (IP) is not merely about registration; it’s also about enforcing your rights. In Malaysia, a robust framework exists to protect and enforce IP rights, ensuring that creators and businesses can defend their innovations and creativity.

  • Civil Remedies: IP owners can seek civil remedies through the Malaysian court system. This includes obtaining injunctions, damages, and orders for account of profits against infringers.
  • Criminal Prosecution: IP infringement can lead to criminal charges, with potential fines and imprisonment for violators, acting as a powerful deterrent.
  • Customs Recordation: The Malaysian Customs Department collaborates with IP rights owners to seize counterfeit goods at borders.

MyIPO, the key organisation responsible for registering IPOs, plays a crucial role in IP enforcement by:

  • Administering IP registrations.
  • Providing dispute resolution services.
  • Assisting in investigations.
  • Educating the public on IP rights.

IP disputes are typically resolved through the High Court or the Intellectual Property Court (IPC). These courts have specialised judges with expertise in handling IP-related matters, ensuring fair and knowledgeable adjudication. In fact, IP infringement in Malaysia carries serious consequences, including:

  • Financial Liabilities: Infringers may face substantial fines and compensation claims.
  • Damage to Reputation: Infringement can tarnish a company’s reputation and brand.
  • Legal Obligations: Court-ordered injunctions and compliance with IP rights.
  • Criminal Charges: In extreme cases, criminal prosecution with fines and imprisonment.

Understanding these enforcement mechanisms and consequences underscores the importance of respecting IP rights and the significant protection offered to innovators and creators in Malaysia.

Closing Thoughts

Safeguarding your Intellectual Property (IP) is highly critical. We’ve explored the multifaceted world of IP laws, emphasising their paramount importance for businesses, particularly in the e-commerce sector. Proactivity in IP management is the linchpin of business success in Malaysia. Secure your creations, brand, and innovations to thrive in this competitive marketplace.

However, we encourage you to seek professional legal advice for tailored guidance on your unique IP concerns. Protecting your IP is an investment in your business’s future; expert guidance can make all the difference. Safeguard your IP, confidently navigate Malaysia’s business terrain, and pave the way for your business’s success.

What is the duration of trademark protection in Malaysia?

Trademarks in Malaysia are protected for an initial period of 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely.

How can I enforce my patent rights in Malaysia?

You can enforce patent rights in Malaysia through civil remedies, criminal prosecution, and customs recordation.

What benefits does copyright registration offer in Malaysia?

Copyright registration provides legal protection, evidence in court, enforceable rights, potential for royalties, and global recognition.

How can I protect my trade secrets in Malaysia?

Yes, you can protect trade secrets in Malaysia through common law and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs).

Experience fulfillment by LOCAD

Grow your business through Locad’s simplified and automated fulfillment solution

  • Unlimited and scaleable warehousing
  • Pay only for what you store
  • No hidden fees or lock-in periods
  • Zero inbound costs
  • Wide integration with marketplaces
  • Automated logistics and delivery
Get the latest e-commerce industry news, best practices, and product updates!

Don't miss out on the latest news!

Get the latest industry news, best practices, and product updates!

Up to $250K USD Credits for Locad Customers!

Sign up today and accelerate your growth with Locad’s Partners. Unlock deals across SaaS, Agencies and more.

Exclusive benefits to ace your e-commerce game this 2023 with Locad’s desk calendar!