Monday, January 6, 2020

Matta takes Mata to task for trademark infringement

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents’ acronym Matta is a well-known catchphrase for Malaysians who keep a lookout for its annual travel fairs. Of late, however, Matta appears to have a rival with a similar sounding acronym Mata.

The acronym Mata used by the Malaysia Association Tour Agency (Persatuan Agensi Pelancong Malaysia) has certainly irked the well-established Matta, no thanks to the confusion the homophones have created in the marketplace.

Matta secretary-general Nigel Wong, in a statement today, said that Matta is taking legal action against the newly-registered Mata by issuing a letter of demand citing that the latter has infringed on its trademark, caused misrepresentation and has deliberately passed off Matta’s name and goodwill.
“We have demanded that Mata cease and desist using the infringing mark and infringing name and we also demanded a public apology to be published in leading national newspapers, failing which Matta will instruct it’s solicitors without any further delay to commence legal proceedings,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wong said Matta is currently seeking an explanation from the Registrar of Society (ROS) on the approval for Mata registration.

He said this was because ROS recorded that five of the founders and current office bearers of Mata were also the current office bearers of Persatuan Agensi Pelancongan Umrah dan Haji (PAPUH), and two from Malaysia Tourism Council.

“On September 11, 2014, Matta held an Extraordinary General Meeting which voted overwhelmingly to expel all five of the aforementioned office bearers for causing moral and material damage to Matta,” he added.

At present, the 45-year-old Matta has a membership of more than 3,600 comprising travel agencies and tour operators licensed under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture. — Bernama

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

More Trademarks and IP expected

Domestic Trade Affairs and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution said this was because the new act, which replaced the Trade Marks Act 1976, provided recognition to non-traditional trademarks. - NSTP/RAMDZAN MASIAM

The government is foreseeing an increase in trademark and intellectual property applications over the next few months.

This is on the heel of the new Trademarks Act 2019 coming to force next month and its subsequent enforcement.

Domestic Trade Affairs and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution said this was because the new act, which replaced the Trade Marks Act 1976, provided recognition to non-traditional trademarks.

He said with the new act, Malaysian entrepreneurs could now trademark intangible materials such as shape of goods, packaging, sound, scent, colour, holograms, positioning and sequence of motions that could be graphically presented to distinguish goods and services from others.

“The new act will help businesses protect their trademark through a fast, efficient and effective registration system. This new legislation also allows for multi-class applications and will streamline the administrative paperwork needed for brands to protect marks across different classes,” he said after the National Seminar on Branding and The Madrid System for the International Registration of Mark at the Royale Chulan Hotel, here, today.

The event was attended by Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) chairman Dr Rozhan Othman and International Bureau of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Asean regional director Denis Croze.

Elaborating, Saifuddin said between 2016 and 2018, there were 151,323 applications for intellectual property registration, and of that number, 118,237 were successfully registered.

He said during the same time period, a total of 123,856 applications for trademark registration were received of which 100,597 were successfully registered.

“In 2018 alone, there was a total of 52,998 applications for intellectual property registration and 43,656 for trademark registration. With the new act, we can expect to see the number growing,” he said.

It was reported that the Trademarks Act 2019 followed the recently-adopted Madrid System or Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Protocol), adopted in Madrid on June 27, 1989. Malaysia is the 106th member of the Madrid System. Other Asean countries which have acceded to the protocol include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Madrid System enables them to protect their brands in 122 countries, including the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Brazil. Trademark owners will only need to fill a single application with MyIPO to register their local brands in countries participating in the protocol. The system is an international treaty administered by WIPO. The system allows trademark owners to seek protection in several countries simultaneously by filing one application with a single office, in one language and by paying one fee. Malaysian entrepreneurs will be able to register their brands starting Dec 27.

Saifuddin also urged Malaysian entrepreneurs to register their companies or brands under the act as soon as possible. He said businesses that does not protect their trademark by registering it risked having imitators from within the country taking over the name associated with their product.

“Malaysian companies need to be more cognizant of this development and start having a long-term brand strategy to protect and leverage on their trademark. This cannot happen if they do not file an application to protect their trademark with MyIPO,”he said.

It was reported that the new Trademarks Act 2019 also carries newer, more severe punishments for offenders. Those found committing fraudulent or trademark infringements can be fined up to RM1 million, jailed for a maximum of five years, or both. Previously, the punishment for trademark infringements included a fine of RM5,000 for the first offence, with subsequent fines possibly increasing to RM30,000 in addition to a three -year jail term, or both. - Balbin Kaur / NSTP

Monday, November 4, 2019

Budget 2020: Malaysia to Introduce Patent Box Regime

In Budget 2020, the government aims to increase innovation level and diversify the economy of the country.

Research & development expenditure receive an allocation of RM524 million to ministries and public agencies. A separate RM43 million is allocated for development of new plant varieties. This is good news to the research community.

An incentive caught the attention of IP community.

"IP-generated income based on the Modified Nexus Approach (MNA) derived from patents and software copyright will be given tax exemption (of 100%) for a period of up to 10 years," - Lim Guan Eng

What is Modified Nexus Approach

Patent is a form of movable asset. In 1973, Ireland introduced an incentive which provides total tax relief in respect of income from licenses patented in Ireland. Several firms moved their patents to Ireland to enjoy the tax incentive. This regime which provides a lower tax rate on income derived from patents is called a patent box.

Customised patent box regime was then introduced in France in 2000, Belgium in 2007, Netherlands in 2007, Luxembourg in 2008, Spain in 2008, China in 2008 and the UK in 2013. A European Commission paper in 2015 found that patent registration is responsive to lower tax rates provided through patent boxes.

The UK reduced the corporate tax of 20% to 10% for patent owners and exclusive licensees. When the UK introduced the patent box, patent applicants rose by 29% and GlaxoSmithKline built a new factory which would create 500 jobs. According to the UK treasury, the UK would have the lowest corporate tax in the G7 and the fourth lowest in the G20 assuming that other countries did not cut their rates.

Germany was concerned over misuse of patent box as a tool for profit shifting. In 2015, OECD countries agreed on a Modified Nexus Approach (MNA) for IP regimes.

MNA requires a link between R&D expenditures, IP assets and IP income. The tax benefit for income derived from IP should be proportional to IP owner's own R&D expenditures.

Effect of Modified Nexus Approach in UK and Ireland

On 1 July 2016, the UK tax relief was updated to consider R&D expenditures based on OECD MNA. To enjoy reduced tax rate of 10%, the patent owner or exclusive licensee shall derive income from patent granted by UKIPO, EPO, or selected European countries. Qualifying development expenditure was defined as (1) development of the patented invention and (2) development of a product incorporating the patented invention

In 2016, Ireland adapted the MNA and included software copyright into the tax incentive. Similar as UK, a granted patent is required to enjoy the incentive. Ireland provides a reduced rate of 6.25% rather than nominal corporate rate of 12.5%.

Singapore IP Development Incentive

Singapore introduced a patent box regime called IP Development Incentive (IDI) based on MNA in 2017. Reduced tax rate of 5% or 10% is provided for patent or patent application, and any copyright subsisting in software. The tax rate of 5% need investment of S$10 million and 20 new skilled jobs to be created. The tax rate of 10% applies if there is an investment of S$6 million and 15 new skilled jobs created. Singapore provides allowance to pending patent applications while stating clear investment requirement.

Malaysia Patent Box to be Administered by MIDA

According to Ministry of Finance, Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) would administer Malaysia patent box. Tax incentive for biotechnology industry, MSC Malaysia, pioneer status and principal hub would be repealed.

We await with breath MIDA's requirement for patent box. Would pending patents be included in the incentive? Is there an investment requirement? Stay tuned until MIDA's announcement.

Benefits of Patent Box

We anticipate that patent box would encourage patent activity in the country. Patent box would increase the valuation of patents and software in the long term. We don't see a short term increase in the value of patents or software as Malaysia is not seen as a preferred research hub. We believe that increase in research investment should precede the licensing value of patents and software to improve the confidence of investors over Malaysia research. Universities and research institutions should be prepared for increased commercialization activities.

Friday, September 6, 2019

My Wish for Patents Bill Amendment

The Trademarks Bill 2019 was passed in parliament this year.

I have 16 years experience in preparing patent applications for Malaysia universities, agencies and SMEs. According to Patents Act, utility innovation provides protection for innovation that does not need to fulfill inventive step.

Utility innovation is known as utility model in Germany, Japan and China. China made use of utility model to introduce many innovations to the market. Utility model is cost effective - there is no mandatory substantive examination. Innovators can get a grant in 6-12 months and market their innovation.

Currently, Malaysia utility innovation needs substantive examination. It takes at least 4 years to get the grant. Malaysia innovators have trouble commercializing innovation without the grant.

I propose the following provisions for utility innovations:
1. Remove requirement for substantive examination for utility innovations
2. Introduce post grant substantive examination as requirement for enforcement. Currently, most defendant in patent litigation files invalidation proceeding.
3. Allow multiple claims. I don't understand why Malaysia limits utility innovation to single claim when other countries allow multiple claims. It would be difficult for the same innovation to be protected in other countries.

Benefits of proposed utility innovation:
1. Applicants can save substantive examination fees
2. Applicants can save fees in replying to patent examiner
3. Applicants can gain utility innovation in relatively quick time so that it can be marketed quickly
4. Applicants get same rights as patent rights to make, use, and sell innovation
5. Innovation has multiple claims to fall back if main claim is invalidated
6. Patent examiners to be relived burden of examining utility innovation

I believe these provisions will help innovators to launch innovation in market. We need innovation to boost entrepreneurship and SME.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Who Wrote the Lyrics for Setia?

This year's National Day is celebrated with a Setia song by our Agong and Malaysia Cabinet. The Setia song which means loyalty is a song produced by RTM in 1987. The New Straits Times reported that the song was shown everyday that some regard the song as the second national anthem.

There are several parties that contributed in producing the patriotic song. Someone wrote the lyrics, someone wrote the melody, someone arranged the song, someone performed the song, someone recorded the song, and someone released the song.

Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, also known as Tok Mat, was appointed as the Information Minister in 1987. In an interview with Astro Awani, Habsah Hassan, a lyricist claimed that she was approached by Tok Mat to write a patriotic song. She submitted a sheet of lyrics to him.

Datuk Ahmad Dasillah, a former director of RTM Orchestra composed the music for Setia.

"After the song was prepared, I presented the song to (Tok Mat's) office. We sang the melody together," Ahmad said in an interview with Astro Awani.

Tok Mat was not satisfied with the lyrics and made several changes to the lyrics.

Francissca Peter was chosen as the singer for Setia. She was accompanied by a group of students. The song was recorded in a studio in Chow Kit and released.

Tok Mat considered the song a success that even non-Malays sing the song.

RTM credited Ahmad as the composer and Tok Mat as the lyricist. As the producer, RTM would be the copyright owner of Setia.

Habsah, in recent years found out that she was not credited as one of the co-author of Setia, even though she was the former Chairperson of Music Authors Copyright Protection (MACP).

Who wrote the lyrics for Setia? Tok Mat or Habsah?

Copyright protects expression of idea. Copyright protects the choice and arrangement of words used to express an idea. An analysis will need to be performed to separate ideas and expression of ideas in lyrics submitted by Habsah. A comparison of lyrics will then need to be performed if the expression of ideas remain in current Setia.

I have no intention to dispute the original lyrics of Setia. I don't have access to the development of lyrics.

I wish to point out problems faced by genuine talents in submitting ideas to the government. The government invites ideas and documents from the public. I am aware that the government reserves the right to accept and modify ideas submitted. I believe genuine talents would like their efforts to be acknowledged. Acknowledgement of talents is important to cultivate a healthy pool of genuine talents.

Selamat Hari Kebangsaan!
Dennis Tan

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Five things to note about GII2019

The Global Innovation Index 2019, which rank countries according to innovation investment and output was released on 24 Jul 2019. We present five things to note about GII:

1. Malaysia maintained rank 35th in GII and 2nd among upper middle income countries

Malaysia leads in high tech exports (34.1% of total trade) and creative goods exports (9.8% of total trade). Malaysia needs to improve PISA score (412.7); and patent (1.2 /bn PPP$ GDP), trademark (20.9 /bn PPP$ GDP) and industrial design (0.6 /bn PPP$ GDP) application by origin. Top patent applicants are government institutions instead of private companies. Only 1.2 patent applications are filed over 1 billion PPP$ GDP.

2. China improved three spots to 14th in GII and still 1st among upper middle income countries

China has good marks in high tech exports (27.9% of total trade), creative goods exports (11.9% of total trade); and patent (53.7 /bn PPP$ GDP), trademark (238.7 /bn PPP$ GDP) and industrial design (26.3 /bn PPP$ GDP) application by origin. China private companies recognize high investment and output in intangible assets. Top patent applicants are Huawei, ZTE and BOE.

3. Vietnam improved three spots to 42 in GII and higher output than Malaysia

Vietnam has been outperforming peers for the 9th consecutive year. Vietnam (37th) has higher innovation output rank compared to Malaysia (39th) even though Malaysia has higher investment in innovation. Vietnam has improvements in human capital and research, market sophistication and knowledge, expenditure on education, high tech imports and trademark (85.3 /bn PPP$ GDP) applications of origin.

4. Switzerland, Sweden and USA lead the GII

Global government expenditures in R&D (GERD) grew by 5% while business R&D expenditures grey by 6.7%. The world is investing in R&D and producing innovation. Private companies lead patent applications.

5. Medical technology is the most frequent patenting field - present in 19 clusters

According to GII, the convergence of digital and biological technologies is disrupting healthcare and increasing the importance of data integration and management across the healthcare ecosystem. Innovation in the field of health now massively evolves around big data, the internet of things and artificial intelligence, entailing huge power shifts within and away from the health sector.

Our analysis:
Malaysia rank no. 1 in high tech exports. We need government and private companies to recognize the importance of innovation investment and output. Malaysia has low intangible asset output over GDP. The government needs to ask why private companies are not proportionally reinvesting income in producing intangible assets. We have high number of graduates in science (rank 8th in GII). What can the government do to give confidence to private companies to invest in innovation? Can government linked companies lead the way? Can government appoint the right person to lead the way? Can Malaysia stay competitive in innovation?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Most Valuable Artwork: Mona Lisa

According to Guinness World Records, the Mona Lisa has the highest insurance value ever for a painting in history. In 1962, the painting was assessed at U$100 million. If inflation and surge in art prices are taken into account, the painting is estimated to be worth $2.5 billion in 2014, according to France 24.

Mona Lisa, a masterwork of Renaissance was painted by Leonardo da Vinci in early 16th century. It is described as the best known, most visited, most written about, most sung about, and most parodied work of art in the world, according to The Independant.

Leonardo is the most celebrated man during the Renaissance as an artist, engineer and inventor.

"Leonardo is ranked among the most influential artists in history. He lived in the boom of the Renaissance, a golden age of social and cultural change, a period in history characterized by an enthusiastic fervor towards intellectual pursuits and creativity," says Eliana Salvi, cultural officer of the Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur.

She notes that Leonardo saw the entire world as the great machine of the world, as he call it, a work of art that is to be studied through curious eyes, and paintings as a way to understand and record what he saw, the physical world as well as the contained emotions.

The Mona Lisa painting shows a half length portrait of Lisa Gherardini, which was commissioned by her Italian husband. In Italian language, Mona means madam. It was bought by King Francis I of France which become the property of France. It is displayed at the Louvre, Paris since 1797.

Why the Painting is Valuable?

In 1911, the painting was stolen from the Louvre. The incident created headlines and copies of print out around the world. The copyright for the painting would have long expired. The painting was recovered in 1914. The Louvre then invested heavily in security to prevent such theft from happening again. There are many copies made but there is only one original copy painted by Leonardo.

To commemorate the 500th year of Leonardo da Vinci's death in 1519, a life size digital exhibition of seventeen paintings of Leonardo da Vinci will be held at the National Art Gallery from 15 July to 15 August. Admission is free. The traveling exhibition called 'Leonardo da Vinci: Opera Omnia', which means the incredible exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci is conceived by the Italian public television subsidary RaiCom with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.