Inventors often overlook Utility Innovations in favour of patents in intellectual property protection. Utility innovations has its advantages however, as they have a fewer requirements for the patentability of an invention.
Utility Innovations in Malaysia
In Malaysia, inventors are able to protect their inventions under two types of patent protection: patents and Utility Innovations. Utility Innovations in Malaysia is governed by Malaysia’s Patents Act 1983, which defines utility innovations as the following:
Any innovation which creates a new product or process, or any new improvement of a known product or process, which is capable of industrial application and includes an invention.
In other words, inventors are able to gain exclusive rights to their invention via utility innovations, under the circumstances whereby their invention is a product or process that issues a new method to a process or solves a technical problem in a field of technology. Inventors with a certificate of Utility Innovations will have the exclusive rights to exploit their inventions, for example, to sell, use, make, license or assign the invention in question.
What else should inventors know about UI?
Although there are fewer requirements to gaining a certificate of Utility Innovations, inventors must still meet a certain threshold prior to granting of UI protection. Utility innovations need to be:
- Industrially applicable
The requirements above may be understood as such. ‘New’ refers to the novel qualities of the invention, meaning that it has not been used or revealed to the public anywhere in the world. ‘Industrially applicable’ simply means that the invention can be applied in the field of industry.
In Malaysia, invetors may only make one claim for any field of technology.
Inventors must take note that some inventions may not be protected by Utility Innovations:
- Discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods
- Plant or animal varieties
- Performing mental acts, games, rules or methods for business purposes
- Diagnostic methods practiced on the human or animal body
These inventions may be protected by way of other intellectual property areas, for example, Plant Variety Protection (PVP) for new plant varieties.
Utility innovations offer up to 10 years of intellectual property protection from the date of filing. They are usually extendable for two successive periods up to 5 years each. However, it is the inventor’s own responsibility to keep track of deadlines for the extension of their Utility Innovations, as UI protection is not renewed automatically.
A major advantage of Utility Innovations remains that inventors do not need to prove the inventiveness of their inventions in order to be granted a certificiate of UI. This is unlike the granting of patents whereby inventors are required to demonstrate that their inventions possess an inventive step.
Furthermore, the process to obtain UI is much quicker and easier than patents. Although the timeline for UI protection is shorter, inventors are still granted exclusive rights to their inventions as per patents.
Should inventors fulfil the requirements as stated above, and find obtaining a certificate of UI advantageous to their inventions, they should seek a patent agent to begin the application process as soon as possible as the first-to-file system favours the first applicant who makes an application for one particular invention.
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