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Intellectual Property in Malta

Intellectual Property in Malta

In order to meet the EU intellectual property legislation, Malta has renewed its law regarding the protection of copyrightpatents and trademarks. In 2007, Malta became member of the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty and, in 2009, it became a signatory member of WIPO Copyright Treaty and Performances and Phonograms Treaty. Malta’s legislation for intellectual property protection comprises: the Trademarks Act, the Patents and Designs Act, the Copyright Act and the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act.

Below, our lawyers in Malta present the most important aspects related to the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights. You can rely on us for assistance in registering various types of intellectual property in Malta, including trademarks in Malta.

Intellectual property legislation in Malta

The Maltese government treats intellectual property protection seriously and has enabled various laws which support those who seek to obtain such rights. There are several laws under which a person or company can register trademarks in Malta, copyrights, industrial models and designs and patents.

The main laws providing for intellectual property protection are:

  1. The Copyright Law which provides for the protection of various literary works and other creations;
  2. The Trademarks Act which provides for the protection of signs and marks registered in Malta;
  3. The Patents and Designs Law which provides for the protection of designs, models and patents;
  4. The Intellectual Property Rights (cross-border measures) Law which provides for the protection of various creations registered in Malta;
  5. The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (Regulation) Law which provides for the implementation of the intellectual property laws;
  6. The Trade Secrets Act and the Commercial Law as there are various transactions related to intellectual property rights that can be completed in Malta.

Our Maltese lawyers can provide in-depth information on all the regulations refering to the protection of intellectual property in Malta. You can discuss more with our lawyers and see the rules imposed by Malta Patent Office.

IP protection levels in Malta

Those who want to register various IP rights should know that there are several levels of protection that be obtained. The first level is the national one, meaning that any citizen or resident of Malta, but also companies incorporated here or abroad can register a trademark or other rights deriving from intellectual property creation with the Comptroller of Industrial Property.

It is also possible to register various IP rights at a European Union level, as Malta is a member state of this country. IP registration at EU level will imply filing an application form with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The advantage of EU registration is that a trademark or other IP right will benefit from enhanced protection and recognition on the territories of all member states.

An intellectual property right obtained in Malta can also be registered at an international level with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The main requirement for obtaining world recognition of trademarks in Malta or other IP right is to first have it registered in Malta.

Our law firm in Malta can offer assistance in registering various types of IP rights and acquiring different degrees of protection.

Intellectual property in the commercial sector in Malta

As seen above, the Commercial Law and Civil Law in Malta also contain provisions related to the protection of intellectual property rights. One of the most important aspects related to the protection of IP is by creating a holding company in Malta used for holding various intellectual property rights. Holding companies are very advantageous from a taxation point of view, as they can obtain different tax exemptions and deductions on the royalties incomes they obtain.

Prior to 2007, Malta had a specific regime for International Trading Companies, however, after this year, a company created for the purpose of owning intellectual property rights can be incorporated as a limited liability company with a very low share capital (approximately EUR 1,200) and benefit from the corporate tax applicable in Malta.

If you need information on the taxation of companies in Malta, our lawyers can guide you. You can also rely on our attorneys in Malta for assistance in any IP litigation case.

Patent protection in Malta

An invention will be considered a patent in Malta if it brings novelty and if it can find applicability in the industrial sector. In Malta, biological inventions can be patented if certain moral requirements are met. Patents have a 20-year period of validity from the application date and a maintenance fee will be collected starting the third year.  The owner of a Maltese patent will use it exclusively and, only with his or her authorization, the patent will be used by third parties. In order to apply for a patent, the following documents are necessary:

  • an application form;
  • a solicitation for the approval of the patent;
  • the description of the patented invention;
  • one or more utilizations;
  • drawings representing the description or the utilization of the patent;
  • an abstract of the patent.

If you need guidance in filing for patent application with Malta Patent Office, our Maltese law firm can help you. We can also represent you in the relation with the relevant IP authorities in Malta.

Trademark protection in Malta

Maltese laws recognize a trademark as any graphic sign intended to distinguish products or services from others. Any letter, word or combination of words, numbers, colors or shapes can be considered a trademark. The author of a trademark has exclusive rights in using it. Usually, Maltese companies use trademarks for marketing purposes.

In order to apply for trademark registration, the following documents must be provided:

  • a solicitation for the registration of the trademark;
  • the identification of the applicant;
  • a declaration of the products or services the trademark will represent;
  • a depiction of the mark to be registered;
  • a statement for priority in case the applicant wants to use a request submitted before;
  • if the trademark is already in use, the applicant must give his/her consent;
  • if any colors will be used, the applicant must declare the names of these colors;
  • if a representative has been appointed, a copy of his identification must be provided;
  • the proof of the registration fee.

You can rely on our Maltese lawyers for assistance in drafting and submitting the forms for registering a trademark in Malta.

Copyright protection in Malta

In Malta, any literary work and audio-visual work is considered intellectual property and falls under the legislation of the Copyright Act.  In Malta, artistic work receives copyright protection even if it was not previously registered, sufficing to be made public. Copyright offers its authors moral and economical rights. Copyrights are available for 70 years after the death of its author.

You can count on our lawyers in Malta if you need assistance in registering a copyright with the Comptroller for Intellectual Property.

Creations offered online for free – Are these protected?

Unfortunately, there is no particular regulation under which a work offered online is legal or not. However, there are a few factors that should be considered like:

  • If a price is requested, this means that the website providing a specific work is protected.
  • The location of the source is another important factor that should be considered before using a work provided on the internet. A trustworthy or well-known website definitely offers protected creations that can be used in a legal way, without any possible breaches.
  • Another indicator that shows a specific creation online can be used is the quality. If you detect that a work presents a bad quality, then it is likely to breach the intellectual property rights.

Intellectual property statistics in Malta

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO):

  • Malta became a member of the Organization in 1977;
  • in 2018, the income generated by IP filings represented 18.45% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product;
  • in 2018, Malta had a total number of 60,903 classes of trademarks in the application filed with WIPO;
  • in the same year, the country had a total number of 1,140 designs in industrial design registrations.

FAQ about intellectual property in Malta

1. What are the 4 types of intellectual property in Malta?

According to the Maltese legislation, copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets are the 4 types of intellectual property protected in Malta. Having a business in Malta also involves attention regarding the intellectual property in Malta. 

2. Do trademarks registered in Malta have protection in other territories too?

Yes, registered trademarks in Malta are also protected in Gozo and Comino, two important Maltese islands.

3. Are there any restrictions regarding trademark registration in Malta?

Yes, it is forbidden to use and register geographical names, offensive symbols or marks, icons, or emblems of other countries, for instance. All these aspects can be discussed with our Maltese lawyers.

4. Do I need to register the IP rights with the European Union?

Yes, the registration with the European Union Intellectual Property Office can be made by owners of intellectual property rights in Malta. The country is part of the European Union and signed a series of agreements referring to IP rights in Malta.

5. Can I own intellectual property in Malta under the rules of a company?

Yes, the limited liability company is the type of structure widely used for owning intellectual property rights in Malta. Legal assistance is provided by our attorneys in Malta, so those interested can get in touch with our team.

6. How do I apply for a patent in Malta?

Malta Patent Office is the institution that accepts the documents for patent applications. Among these, the complete description of the patent, plus a series of application forms are solicited by Malta Patent Office. One of our Maltese lawyers can offer legal guidance for documents preparation and filling.

7. Do I need a representative for registering a trademark in Malta?

There is no obligation for you to have a representative for registering a trademark in Malta. However, if you would like to skip the formalities and let an expert deal with the procedures, you can get in touch with us from the start.

8. How is copyright protection offered in Malta?

Artistic, literary, and audio-visual creations are considered intellectual property and therefore, protection against possible infringement. The Copyright Act in Malta is the legislation that mentions how is IP protection offered to those dealing with activities in such sectors.

9. When should I file for two trademark applications in Malta?

In the case your trademark comprises graphics or logos, plus unique verbal elements, you might want to file two trademark applications. A stronger protection is provided in this case, and there are no restrictions regarding the trademark registration by filling two applications.

10.  Can a Maltese lawyer help me with trademark and intellectual property protection?

Yes, you can rely on our legal support and counseling for registering a trademark or a patent in Malta. Intellectual property is treated seriously in Malta and there are a series of laws that offer protection.

Working with our lawyers in Malta

Our team of lawyers in Malta has experience in various fields and can offer specialized help for copyright protection. In addition to the formalities related to setting up a business in Malta, it would be advisable to consider the protection of intellectual property rights and the trademark you own. Therefore, any information you want regarding these aspects related to the company you own or want to set up, can be offered by our specialists in the field. You can rely on confidentiality, transparency, and efficiency when working with our lawyers in Malta, regardless of the problems you encounter.

If you want to open a company and you need details about copyright protection, you can contact our law firm in Malta.