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A patent for an invention or a certificate for a utility innovation protects an invention which offers a new technical solution to a problem, or creates a new product or process, or makes an improvement of a known product or process, and is capable of industrial application.
The patent and utility innovation system in Malaysia is governed by the Patents Act 1983 and the Patents Regulations 1986.
Malaysia is a member state of the Paris Convention. An application for a Malaysian Patent may rely on a foreign priority if it is filed within twelve months from the foreign priority date in another member state of the Paris Convention.
Malaysia has also acceded to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in August 2006. By filing PCT, an applicant for a patent can delay the entry into the National Phase filing by up to 30 months calculated from the Priority Date or from the First Filing Date of a patent application.
Under the Patents Act 1983, an invention is patentable if it is novel (new), inventive (which is not obvious to any person with an average skill in the technological field of the invention) and is industrially applicable. A utility innovation is an exclusive right granted for a minor invention which is novel (new) and is industrially applicable.
The procedure involved in an application for a certificate for a utility innovation, except in relation to the number of claims permissible, is the same as that for a patent for an invention. Unlike a normal patent, where more than one claim can be applied for, in the case of a utility innovation, only one claim is allowed. Although it is not possible for an applicant to be granted both a patent and a certificate for a utility innovation for the same invention, it is possible to convert an application for a patent into an application for a utility innovation and vice versa.
The requirements for the registration of utility innovations are less stringent than the requirements for obtaining a patent.
A utility innovation is not required to satisfy the test of inventiveness as required of a patent. In practice, protection for utility innovations is typically sought for innovations of an incremental nature that might not satisfy the criterion for patents, i.e. ability to demonstrate inventive step.
The term of protection for a patent in Malaysia is 20 years, beginning from the date of filing of the patent application. A utility innovation is protected for a period of 10 + 5 + 5 years from the date of filing subject to use.