Patentable inventions

The general rule set out in Article 4 of the Patents and Designs Act (Chapter 417 of the Laws of Malta) (the ‘Act’) is that an invention, including a biological invention (subject to certain ethical and moral exceptions), shall be patentable if it is:

– Novel: that is, the invention must not be previously available to the public;

– Inventive: that is, not obvious to a person skilled in the art covered by the invention;

– Industrially applicable: that is, can be used in industry.

Requirements for application for the registration of a patent

Malta patents are registered in the Malta Patent Register administered by the Comptroller of Industrial Property.

In terms of Article 13 of the Act, an application for the registration of a patent in Malta needs to be accompanied by:

(a)    a written request for the grant of a patent;

(b)   a description of the invention (the application shall disclose the invention in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for the invention to be carried out by a person skilled in the area);

(c)    one or more claims i.e. the scope of the patented invention or the extent of protection;

(d)   any drawings referred to in the description or the claims;

(e)    an abstract of the invention.

The application shall also designate the inventor or, where there are several inventors, all of them.

Where an attorney has been appointed to handle the application, a certified copy of the power of attorney document must also be submitted.

Examination of the application

Once all the documentation is in place, it generally takes approximately 18 months till the date of grant, given that the law stipulates that a patent cannot be published before 18 months from the date of filing (Article 25(2) of Act).

Terms of Patents

The term of a patent shall be 20 years from the filing date of the application, subject to the payment of the prescribed fee in respect of the beginning of the third year (calculated from the filing date of the application) and each subsequent year after that.

Rights Conferred by a Patent

The proprietor of a patent shall have the right to prevent third parties from performing without his authorisation:

a)     the making of a product or the use of a process, which is the subject-matter of the patent;

b)     the offering on the market of a product incorporating the subject-matter of a patent; and

c)     the inducing of third parties to perform any of these acts.

A patent application, which has been published shall provisionally confer upon the applicant the same rights as mentioned above.

European Patent Validations in Malta

Pursuant to Malta’s accession to the European Patent Convention of 1973, once the European Patent Office (EPO) grants a European Patent, the Maltese Industrial Property Office, along with the rest of the national patent offices in the contracting states, may subsequently be required to grant a national patent in accordance with domestic procedures.

In order to obtain the validation of a European Patent, the following information and documents are required:

(a) The full name, address and postcode of the applicant of the European Patent, as well as each and every inventor mentioned in the European Patent;

(b) If the applicant and the inventor/s are different, an indication in whose name the national Maltese patent is to be issued would also be required (i.e. either in the name of the applicant or of the inventor/s);

(c) The number of the European Patent, filing date of the European Patent, date of publication of the grant of the European Patent, and title of the invention of the European Patent;

(d) A copy of the decision to grant the European Patent as issued by the EPO or a copy of the front page of the published European Patent;

(e) An English language version of the European Patent documentation, which must be filed with the Malta Industrial Property Office within three months after the date on which the mention of the grant is published in the European Patent Bulletin;

(f) A power of attorney will also be required which is to be issued and drawn in our favour by the proprietor of the European Patent.