Intellectual Property Rights (cross-border measures) Act, Act VIII of 2000, was enacted to establish measures relating to the importation into Malta and the exportation and re-exportation from Malta of goods in contravention of intellectual property rights.
The Trademarks Act, Act XVI of 2000 amended in 2003, 2006 and 2007 was enacted to protect trademarks duly registered. The Act defines trademark to include “any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. A trademark may, in particular, consist of works (including a person’s name), figurative elements, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or their packaging.” Although trademarks’ primary utility is in matters to do with commerce and industry, the artistic feature of a trademark may have an immediate relation to the national culture, since by virtue of the Act, national symbols and emblems are protected from being registered as the property of any person.
Patents and Designs Act, Act XVII of 2000, authorises provision for the registration and regulation of patents and designs. Thus, such innovative inventions which fall within the realm of this Act that are considered susceptible to industrial application are therefore patentable. By virtue of the Act, inventions, whether of products or of processes, which are novel, have an inventive step and are capable of industrial application, may be patented. The Act also establishes the design rights that protect the whole or a part of a product including the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and, or materials of the product itself and, or its ornamentation.
Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (Regulation) Act, Act XX of 2006.
The Act provides intellectual property rights-owners with remedies in securing the evidence in preparation for and during proceedings in which they are safeguarding their rights. Therefore the Act provides remedies for evidence collection and preservation, precautionary measures for the safeguarding of one’s rights, and a number of measures one may request the Court to order in its decisions.
Article 298 of the Criminal Code / (Chapter 9 of the Laws of Malta)
When it comes to the criminal law offences against intellectual property rights, some Acts, such as the Patent and Designs Act, contain specific provisions for criminal action (Part XV of the Act). In turn, the Criminal Code, (Chapter 9 of the Laws of Malta) makes provision to protect various Intellectual Property rights and provides for a number of criminal sanctions including imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year for the violation of copyright at a commercial level, and therefore for people who, for gain and by way of trade, carry out a number of identified acts. The Code also makes reference to intellectual property rights when making provision for commercial or industrial fraud, and thus condemns anyone guilty of the following illegal actions to imprisonment for a term from four months to one year:
- forging or altering, without the consent of the owner, the name, mark or any other distinctive device of any intellectual work or any industrial product, or knowingly;
- making use of any such name, mark or device forged or altered, without the consent of the owner, even though by others;
- forging or altering, without the consent of the owner, any design or model of manufacture, or knowingly makes use of any such design or model forged or altered;
- knowingly making use of any mark, device, signboard or emblem bearing an indication calculated to deceive a purchaser as to the nature of the goods, or selling any goods with any such mark, device or emblem; or putting on the market any goods in respect of which a distinctive trade mark has been registered, after removing the trade mark; or applying a false trade description to any goods;
- knowingly putting into circulation, selling or keeping for sale or importing for any purpose of trade, any goods bearing a fraudulent imitation of any mark, device or emblem; and
- knowingly making, keeping or transferring to any person, any die, block machine or other instrument for the purpose of forging, or of being used for forging, a trade mark.