What is patentable?
A new industrial invention or discovery is patentable. The following are deemed to be new inventions or discoveries:
- the invention of a new industrial process or result; and
- the invention of new methods or the new application of known methods for obtaining an industrial result or process.
The following inventions or discoveries are not patentable:
- those relating to trades which are contrary to law, morals or public safety;
- those the subject whereof is not the production of corporeal substances;
- those which are purely theoretical; and
- those relating to credit or finance.
The owner of a patent shall have the exclusive right of working the industrial invention or discovery protected by the patent for his own profit.
This involves filing an application with the Comptroller of Industrial Property to which must be attached:
- 2 copies of a specification which may be either a provisional or a complete specification (accompanied, where necessary, by English translations certified by an official translator);
- in case priority is being claimed, a copy of the specification and drawings or documents filed abroad duly certified by the Patent Office of the Convention country; and
- payment of the registration fee.
In addition, where the applicant is not present in Malta, a Power of Attorney (Appendix I) signed by the applicant with the signature attested by a notary and duly legalised with the Apostille on the reverse side according to the Hague Convention or, alternatively, duly legalised by a Diplomatic or Consular Representative of Malta is required.
A provisional specification must describe the nature of the invention or discovery and its object and, if necessary, be accompanied by drawings. A complete specification, on the other hand, must particularly describe and ascertain the nature of the invention or discovery and the manner in which the same is to be performed and contain an indication of its object.
An applicant wishing to claim priority for a patent under the International Convention in respect of a patent for an invention for which protection has been applied for in a Convention country must file his application in Malta within 12 months from the official date of the first application.
Patents are registered for a period of 14 years from the date of registration. They may, subsequently, be renewed for further periods of 14 years by application in writing to be filed at least 6 months before the time of expiration of the patent together with payment of the renewal fee.
Assignment of a Patent
The document required for the recordal of an assignment of a patent is a Deed of Assignment (accompanied by an English translation certified by an official translator) with the signatures thereon attested by a notary. Where the Deed has been drawn up outside Malta, it should be Apostilled according to the Hague Convention or, alternatively, legalised by a Diplomatic or Consular representative of Malta.
Over and above, where the assignee is not present in Malta, a Form of Authorisation and Statement of Address for Service with the signatures thereon attested by a notary and the document Apostilled or legalised by a Diplomatic or Consular representative of Malta is required.
Remedies in case of infringement
If a patent is infringed, the patent holder has 3 courses of action against the infringer, namely, either:
- to sue the infringer for damages and interest; or else
- to institute a civil action requesting the Courts to impose a fine on the infringer of not less than Euro 23.29 and not exceeding Euro 1,164.69; or else
- to institute a civil action to condemn the infringer to pay to the patent holder all the profits derived from the infringement of the patent.
The Court may also order that all the infringing articles still in possession of the infringer be delivered to the patent holder.
In addition, the law provides for stiff criminal penalties in case of infringement of a patent.