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I think I have invented something and I should protect it, but I am not sure what type of protection I should seek. What should I do?

You should understand the special feature(s) of your creation in order to identify the type of protection that is suitable. An example below shows various features of a website which can be protected in different ways. Consult an intellectual property advisor to provide you with a better understanding.

Source: World Intellectual Property Organization

I would like to apply for a patent for my invention. What should I do?

Your invention is patentable only if it is new, inventive and susceptible of industrial applicability. It would be best to perform a patent novelty search first to find out whether your invention is truly new in view of the prior arts available throughout the world. Seek a professional agent to help you with the search because it is important to understand the criteria governing the determination of novelty, inventiveness and industrial applicability. It is also important to verify that your invention does not fall into any category of non-patentable invention.

I have identified that my invention is very likely to be patentable. What’s next?

Although a patented invention is protected up to 20 years, your invention should be disclosed in a way that enables any person skilled in the art to carry out your invention without further experimentation. However, the disclosure should be made according to patent specifications determined by the governing regulations of a country. Hence, the drafting of a patent document should be done very carefully. It would be best to consult a patent agent to do the job.

A patent agent has drafted the patent document for me. How should I check the document?

The most important part of a patent document is the section containing claims, which specify the protection coverage for your invention. Check the claims carefully to ensure the features in your invention that you wish to protect are not left out of the claims. If any feature cannot be claimed or is not found in the claims section, check with the patent agent the reason it appears way.

Next, you may be asked to fill out a form for appointment of an agent, which authorises the agent to act on your behalf in any correspondence relating to the patent application.

Your application may also require a letter of statement justifying the applicant’s right. If you are not the inventor, this letter needs to be signed by the inventor to justify your rights as an applicant for the patent. If you are the inventor, this letter is not required.

Check the details carefully and consult your patent agent if there is any mistake. It is best to amend such mistake (if any) as early as possible to prevent additional cost that may be incurred from having to submit an official amendment later.

What is next after a patent application has been filed?

The patent documents will be examined for compliance with requirements under the Patents Act 1983, known as preliminary or formalities examination. After the documents have cleared the preliminary examination, other aspects of the patent specifications, particularly the claims, will be examined for novelty, inventiveness and industrial applicability before being granted or refused on the grounds of the criteria being examined. Applicants are given an opportunity to respond should any objection arise from each of the examinations. Such responses will normally be handled accordingly by a patent agent who has been appointed during the application.

Can I apply for a patent by myself?

Yes, you may apply for a patent by yourself as long as you are well-versed with the rules and regulations related to patent drafting and the application process. If not, it would be best to consult a patent agent who can provide to you his/her expertise.

Why is a patent application so complicated and lengthy?

It is important to ensure that an invention is in fact new in the world, not obviously derived from the existing arts, and is susceptible to industrial applications. All of the specifications provided for a patent must also be satisfied. Therefore, a patent requires careful drafting, orderly application process and thorough examinations before it is granted to an applicant. It is a legally-binding document that protects the rights of an applicant to the patent and allows legal actions to be taken against an infringer or a potential infringer.

Can patent and certificate for utility innovation be both granted for the same invention?

Patent and certificate for utility innovation cannot both be granted for the same invention. If an applicant has made an application or been issued with a certificate for utility innovation, a patent will not be granted for the same subject-matter until the application for certificate for utility innovation has been withdrawn or the issued certificate has been surrendered. Likewise, if an applicant has made an application or been issued with a patent, a certificate for utility innovation will not be granted for the same subject-matter until the application for patent has been withdrawn or the granted patent has been surrendered.

What is a “filing date” and a “priority date” and what are their differences?

A filing date is the official date an application for a patent or a certificate for utility innovation is received and acknowledged by the intellectual property office of a country or region. A priority date is the filing date of the first disclosure of an invention in a prior application, which can be claimed during a later application for a patent or a certificate for utility innovation in another country or region. A priority date is the date after which relevant prior arts that are disclosed cannot be included in the novelty assessment of an invention.

Under which law is a patent protected in Malaysia?

In Malaysia, a patent is protected under the Patents Act 1983. All procedures relating to patent applications and executions are regulated under the Patents Regulations 1986.

Can I claim my product as patented before my application for a patent is granted?

It is an offence under Section 64 of the Patents Act 1983 to falsely represent a product or process disposed for value as patented when in fact a patent has not been granted for the product or process.

Can I claim that a patent has been applied for my product?

It is an offence under Section 65 of the Patents Act 1983 to represent that a patent has been applied for any article disposed of for value by any person, when in fact no such application has been made or any such application has been refused or withdrawn.

Why is a patent novelty search and an application for a patent so expensive?

Patent novelty search is an exhaustive process which reviews literatures and patent documents from around the world to identify the novelty, inventiveness and industrial applicability of an invention. Besides that, the application process is subject to administrative charges, service fees, tax and inflation, which are all accounted for in the costing. Whether a cost is expensive or not is defined based on relative comparison. Prospective applicants should consider the necessity and the scope of protection they are seeking and weigh against the chance of potential infringement(s) and the charges that may be incurred should any legal dispute arise.

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