21 April 2004

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Substantial surge expected in Maltese patent registration

- Malta to join European Patent Convention

By David Lindsay
Competitiveness and Communications Minister Censu Galea yesterday said he expects the number of patents being registered at the Malta office to surge from the current annual average of 200 to as high as 3,000.
Minister Galea was addressing yesterday’s one-day conference on ‘Malta and the European Patent Convention’ organised by the Malta Commerce Division in collaboration the European Patent Office.
Explaining how domestic legislation on intellectual property was updated in 2001 with another at par with WIPO Conventions - the WTO Agreement and the European Union’s acquis he comments, “Such a route has been taken by many nations and as a result creators of intellectual property are accorded similar rights when they apply for protection in different countries.”

Referring to traditional methods in the acquisition of international protection, Mr Galea explains how, “the owner of a new invention has to apply in each and every country where protection is sought, using different languages, paying separate fees to the respective patent offices, as well as charges to the national patent attorneys. This obviously is very costly and acts as deterrent to commercial exploitation of the invention.
“The European Patent Convention encourages registration of inventions in countries otherwise not considered for registration since under its system of Intergovernmental Co-operation, it is possible for any legal person to file a single patent application in one of three official languages - English, French and German - and thereby obtain a patent with effect in one, several or all of the Contracting States.
“Furthermore the term, scope of protection and grounds of revocation are the same for all contracting states thereby providing harmonisation of protection and facilitating maintenance of the patent in the different states.”
In this context Mr Galea said that Malta’s accession to the European Patent Convention is imminent and that he will be presenting a motion to Cabinet in the coming weeks.
This will be accompanied by another motion for Malta to accede to the Patent Co-operation Treaty.
He comments, “This, I believe, reflects the government’s full understanding of the importance of the protection of intellectual property. Not only in this country, within which human resources are the biggest resource, but also within the European and global sphere, where innovations are generally a result of extensive research involving considerable amounts of money.”
He added the development should be regarded as a window of opportunity whereby protection of innovative products is not only facilitated in a number of different countries, both within Europe and beyond, but in also providing the tool of technology transfer which will be eventually available at the Commerce Division. This database, through an international registration system, will be offering information on over 100,000 patented inventions per year.
The Industrial Property Office, which forms part of the Commerce Division, is responsible for the registration of trademarks, patents and designs in Malta.
Turning to the issue of competitiveness, Mr Galea explained that one of the main tools in ensuring that businesses remain competitive in an ever-increasing globalised economy is innovation, crucial to which are adequate patent laws and regulations.
“This is one of the main objectives of my Ministry – that of providing the business community with improved and supplementary information leading our industrialists and entrepreneurs to operate in a much more efficient and competitive environment in conforming to the requirements of modern technology.
“Competitiveness is nowadays the key factor in every organisation. It determines whether organisations can survive or not. One must here note that one of the main tools in ensuring that businesses remain competitive in the ever-increasing globalised economy is innovation. It is therefore crucial to ensure that those who strive for innovation and invest their time, intellect, energy and money, reap the benefits of their efforts according to adequate patent laws and regulations. I am sure that Malta’s accession to the European Patent Convention and Patent Co-operation Treaty will reflect government’s commitment on this matter and will encourage innovators to invest further in research and development.”

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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