malaysia trade marks

Proposed Trade Marks And Patents (Including Utility Innovations) Fees Revision

The Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) is proposing to increase the filing fees of numerous applications in respect of trade mark and patents (including utility innovations) applications. The reason for the increase is due to “The escalating costs of upgrading the ICT system“.

The revision introduces the waiver of certain patents searching fees (online) and the reduction of certain fees for trade marks and patents. Meanwhile for certain patents and trade marks fees, an increase at an average of 5% to 50% is also proposed.

The most notable change for trade mark filing is the combination of application and advertisements fees (proposed rate of RM990 for efiling). The current fees structure requires applicants to pay the application fee (RM330 for efiling) and upon approval, the advertisement fees must be paid (RM600 for efiling). There is no indication as to whether the advertisement fees will be refunded if the application is not accepted.

I do not know whether this proposal will be rolled out and when it will be rolled out.

For more details, please see Consultation Paper – Proposed Trade Marks And Patents (Including Utility Innovations) Fees Revision

Battle of the Satay Celup Restaurants

Ban Lee Siang restaurants – used with permission of

Ban Lee Siang is a well known satay celup restaurant in Melaka. It consists of two adjoining shops operated by two different owners who are brothers. The shop was started by their other brother in 1987.

Although both restaurants are named “Ban Lee Siang”, they are both known as Restoran Makanan and Minuman Ban Lee Siang and Restoran Ban Lee Siang. The former was taken over by the Plaintiff in 1997 and the latter was started by the Defendant in 2004.

In 2012, the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the Defendant over the use of the name Ban Lee Siang. The Plaintiff alleged that he is the exclusive and registered proprietor whereas the Defendant is merely a licensee. The Plaintiff terminated the licence via a letter.

The Plaintiff’s registered trade mark

However, the Defendant alleged that he is a joint proprietor of the trade mark as he had purchased the business jointly with the Plaintiff and their mother.

The High Court held that:-

1. Based on the evidence provided, the trade mark BAN LEE SIANG was not only sold to the Plaintiff but also to the Defendant and their mother (paragraph 15);
2. The Defendant is a honest concurrent user (pursuant to s. 40(c) of the Trade Marks Act 1976 (TMA)) but also entitled to file an application under s. 20 of the TMA to be a joint proprietor (paragraph 16); and
3. Since the Plaintiff did not object to the use of the trade mark from the date of establishment of the Defendant’s restaurant until the date of the letter terminating the alleged licence, this shows that the Plaintiff had indeed allowed the use of the trade mark. Thus, following s. 40(c) and (dd) of the TMA, there is no trade mark infringement (paragraph 17).

Download: Chua Cheng Kiat b/s Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Ban Lee Siang v Chua Cheng Ho b/s Restoran Ban Lee Siang

Compendium of Malaysian Intellectual Property Cases – Trade Marks

My first book, Compendium of Malaysian Intellectual Property Cases, will be launched this month or early next month. It is now available for pre-order. Click here to order!

This book contains more than seventy (70) reported and unreported cases on Trade Marks from the Malaysian High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court. For ease of reference the cases have been divided into sections such as infringement, passing off, rectification and opposition. The cases also cover other issues such as non-compliance of pre-trial case management, stay of proceedings, defamation, striking out and assessment of damages in these intellectual property cases. Many of these judgments are not published by the local law journals and they contain many important points of laws.

This is the first publication of a series of books containing reported and unreported Malaysian intellectual property cases.

– This title acts as a handy and mobile casebook
– Catchphrases are comprehensive and helpful in focusing the readers on the specific issue of Trade Marks
– This title is an indispensible tool for lawyers, in-house counsels, patent attorneys, intellectual property practitioners and students.

1. Detailed Flyer
2. Extract of the Book

Apple moves to trademark the term ‘startup’ in Malaysia

I was quoted by Digital News Asia in their article, “Apple moves to trademark the term ‘startup’ in Malaysia“on 30 August 2013.

I understand that the Technopreneurs Association of Malaysia (TeAM) will be taking on Apple’s STARTUP trade mark applications by filing an opposition before the deadline. More details at Digital News Asia.

Apple moves to trademark the term ‘startup’ in Malaysia
Gabey Goh
Aug 30, 2013

– Applications filed with MyIPO for mark under various classes
– Members of public or companies have until Oct 8 to oppose

IN a move that will certainly raise many eyebrows, Apple Inc has filed applications with the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) to trademark the term ‘startup’ in the country.

Yes, you read that right.

The Cupertino, California headquarters of Apple and a Kuala Lumpur-based legal representative, Wong & Partners, lodged the ‘startup’ applications on July 23.

The technology giant has applied to hold the trademark of the word ‘startup’ under various computing, mobile and educational classes.

According to the documents submitted, the mark ‘startup’ is being applied for in classes 35, 37, 41 and 43 for the following services:

Class 35: Retail store services, including retail store services featuring computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, and consumer electronic devices, and demonstration of products relating thereto.
Click here to view/download the application [PDF]

Class 37: Maintenance, installation and repair of computer hardware, computer peripherals and consumer electronic devices; consulting services in the field of maintenance of computer hardware, computer peripherals, and consumer electronic devices.
Click here to view/download the application [PDF]

Class 41: Educational services, including conducting classes, workshops, conferences and seminars in the field of computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, and consumer electronic devices and computer-related services; providing information in the field of education.
Click here to view/download the application [PDF]

Class 42: Design and development of computer hardware and software; technical support services, namely, troubleshooting of computer hardware and software problems; installation, maintenance and updating of computer software; technological consultancy services in the field of computers, computer software and consumer electronics; computer diagnostic services; computer data recovery.
Click here to view/download the application [PDF]

According to a report by Australia-based website TM Watch, which specialises in trademark developments, the same set of applications has also been filed in the country.

Calling it an “audacious” application, TM Watch journalist Tim Lince also noted that “the official Apple website references its operating system booting-up as ‘Startup’ (with a capital letter).”

[UPDATED] Terrence Lee of has also reported that Apple has tried the file the same set of applications in Singapore since 2011.

The company’s trademark application was filed through the Madrid Protocol, an international registration system for marks of which Singapore is a member country. The US and China registrations may have also been filed through this system.

In Singapore, the mark is still pending approval despite being registered more than two years ago, which suggests that the registration has faced complications.

According to Lee, it is unclear if the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore received any objections, since any party can oppose the trademark two months after it was filed.

Responding to queries by Digital News Asia (DNA), intellectual property lawyer Foong Cheng Leong (pic) said that it is possible to trade mark English words so long that the mark is distinctive i.e. capable of distinguishing its goods or services from other traders.

“The marks, once registered, would give exclusive rights to Apple Inc to the word ‘startup’ in respect of the above listed services. Apple may stop anyone from using the said marks for the above listed services,” he said.

Foong added that the mark would cover the term ‘startup’ in any other variation, be it upper case or lower case letters such as ‘STARTUP’, ‘Startup’ or ‘StartUp’.

“Note that the registration does not mean that nobody can use the word ‘startup’ for any goods or services. It is only limited to the registered goods or services,” he added.

When asked how this move would affect existing boot camps, accelerator programmes and government-initiated programmes that have the term in their names, Foong said that assuming the marks are registered, if any of these bootcamps or accelerator uses the mark ‘startup’ for any of the abovementioned services (e.g. education services), they may be open to trade mark infringement and legal action.

“You can’t even provide retail services using the mark ‘startup’!” he added.

Moreover, Foong noted that if no one opposes the application with MyIPO, the application would proceed to the next stage of the process, which is registration.

“Three of the marks are advertised in the Government Gazette for opposition purposes. That means, any person can file a Notice of Opposition with MyIPO against the applications on or before Oct 8 2013.

“If no oppositions are filed after Oct 8 2013 — except the mark in Class 35 which is still pending advertisement — the marks will proceed to registration,” he said.

In addition the application cites a priority claim on the trademark from Jamaica dated Oct 21, 2010.

According to Foong, the law allows trademark applicants to get an earlier priority date by relating to a foreign mark.

“So for example, I filed a trademark in Singapore on May 25, 2013 and I also intend to file the mark in Malaysia on Aug 25, 2013. Instead of getting a priority date of Aug 25, 2013 (which is the filing date), I will get a priority date of May 25, 2013 (if I rely on the Singapore application).

“This is useful because if someone filed the mark after you filed your mark (let’s say on Aug 1, 2013) in Malaysia, your Malaysia trade mark will prevail because you got an earlier priority date. That person’s trademark will get objected,” he said.

DNA has reached out to Apple in Cupertino, California, and is currently awaiting official comment.

Bread & Kaya: Choosing a good trademark for your startup

Choosing a good trademark for your startup
Foong Cheng Leong
Aug 16, 2013

– A descriptive name has its advantages, but can be very hard to protect legally
– Register your mark, or you might find yourself in court when you go to market

Bread & Kaya by Foong Cheng Leong

WHEN George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, chose the name Kodak for his camera, he explained why:

… because I knew a trade name must be short, vigorous, incapable of being mis-spelled to an extent that it will destroy its identity, and, in order to satisfy trademark laws, it must mean nothing. The letter K had been a favourite with me – it seemed a strong, incisive sort of letter. Therefore the word I wanted had to start with K. Then it became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that make words and ending with K. The word Kodak is the result.

Although great advice from a man 100 years ago, it is difficult to come out with such special name for a product. It is enticing for traders to choose a name that best describes their products. It saves them the trouble of promoting extensively or even explaining to customers what the name is all about.

But the use of a name which directly describes one’s goods or services generally attracts problems.

A few years ago, the National ICT Association of Malaysia (known by its Malay-language acronym Pikom) initiated action against EM Exhibitions (M) Sdn Bhd and one of its directors for using the trademark ‘PC EXPO’ for its computer exhibitions.

Pikom alleged that the mark PC EXPO infringes and passes off its trademark ‘PC FAIR.’ The High Court held that the ‘PC FAIR’ is a common descriptive term and is used by numerous traders in the computer industry.

Thus, in short, the mark PC FAIR is not protectable and EM Exhibitions (M) Sdn Bhd is free to use the mark PC EXPO. [For the full judgement, click here].

The moral of the story is, always choose a distinctive mark. A distinctive mark is a mark which distinguishes your products from other traders. A distinctive mark can be registered and protected.

Although an unregistered mark can also be protected, you will need to produce voluminous evidence in court to show that your mark is protectable.

A distinctive mark should be a mark that does not have direct reference to the character or quality of your products. For example, the ‘e-Commerce Shop’ trademark for websites is not a distinctive mark as it describes the character of your product.

However, if you name your fruit stall ‘e-Commerce Shop,’ then you may be able to register it as it does not describe the goods and services provided by your stall.

If you are selling clothes on your e-commerce store, you should avoid using words like ‘clothing,’ ‘fashion,’ ‘haute’ or ‘couture’ as your trademark unless it is combined with a distinctive word or words such as ‘Digital News Asia Fashion.’ [A hint we should diversify? – ED]

Words that extol your products also should be avoided. For example, ‘cheap,’ ‘good,’ ‘great,’ ‘pretty,’ ‘fabulous,’ ‘sexy,’ ‘awesome,’ ‘cool,’ ‘cute’ and ‘best.’

The mark also should not be a name of a place – for example, ‘Silicon Valley’ for software.

Lastly, using a mark which is similar to your competitor’s trademark is a big no-no! If you do so, you’ll be beaten down with a lawsuit before you can start doing business.

You should do an online search at the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia’s database.

Notwithstanding the above, there is nothing wrong with using generic words as your trademark. However, you may not be able to obtain protection.

If you wish to use a generic word, it should be accompanied with a distinctive word or set of words – for example, ‘FCL&Co Legal Services.’

Why register?

Your intellectual property is an asset. Registration gives you exclusive rights over the mark. You may sell it or license it.

There are many horror stories where marks were misappropriated by third parties when the owners did not register them. This usually results in a long and expensive legal suit. Some even had to change the marks that they had been using for years.

You may register the mark yourself by heading to the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia or alternatively, engage a Trade Mark Agent to assist you. The latter would be recommended as they can provide you with proper advice and services.

To conclude, choose a distinctive mark before rolling out your products!

First published in Digital News Asia on 16 August 2013


This article was published by Sin Chew in 2009. I didn’t realise that there is a digital copy of the article on its website. It was originally written in English but translated by Sin Chew into Chinese. I am reproducing it here for the benefit of my Chinese readers. Sadly, I am unable to read or write Chinese.


大馬是從1962年開始,由當年的Pejabat Cap Dagangan dan Jamin hak(商標與版權辦事處)管理知識產權。後來,有關辦事處於1983年在貿易與工業部旗下更名為Pejabat Dagangan dan Paten(商業與專利辦事處)。

1990年10月27日,商標與版權辦事處在國內貿易與消費人事務部旗下,再次更名為Intellectual Property Division(IPD,知識產權組),負責行政與管理大馬的版權法令、商業設計法令、電路集成板設計圖法令,和原產地理標示法令。


能注冊擁有權的知識產權包括了:專利(Patents)、商標(Trade Marks)、工業設計(Industrial Designs)、原產地理標示(Geographical Indications)、版權(Copyright)和電路集成板設計圖(Layout-Design of Integrated Circuits)。

知識產權,牽涉的範圍非常廣闊,也相當復雜。但於Lee Hishammuddin Allen &Gledhill律師樓執業,專門處理知識產權案子的馮正良律師表示,大馬發生最多的是商標爭奪案子,較少涉及版權和專利的案子。



McCurry Restaurant(KL)Sdn Bhd對壘McDonald’s Corporation
麥當勞欲阻止本地一家以快餐店概念賣馬來西亞和印度料理如咖哩魚頭、Briyani飯、椰漿飯、印度煎餅、拉茶的McCurry Restaurant(KL)Sdn Bhd用Mc名字。
有關餐廳提出的理由是:McCurry是Malaysia Chicken Curry的縮略語。麥當勞打到高庭成功取得禁令,禁止McCurry餐廳繼續使用Mc這個字眼。餐廳後來上訴,上訴庭認為高庭的判決不正確,並允許餐廳繼續使用McCurry名字。上訴庭判決的部份根據理由(當然還有很多詳細的理由)包括了:
●McCurry餐廳的招牌,是紅底上寫著白色和灰色Restoran McCurry,並附上一幅雙手豎起拇指的母雞圖,還有Malaysian Chicken Curry的字眼。這家餐廳很清楚地表現了它的業務性質,而且非常明顯地與麥當勞有所不同。

Meidi-ya Ltd&Anor對壘Meidi(M)Sdn Bhd

McLaren International Ltd對壘Lim Yat Meen
這起案子,著名的F1賽車隊McLaren International Ltd申請要求撤銷Lim Yat Meen注冊的McLaren名字。此項注冊是在“衣服類物品,包括靴、鞋子和涼鞋”的第25級(Class25)項目下注冊。賽車隊提出的數項理由中包括了:
(二)Lim Yat Meen不是有關商標的擁有者。
Lim Yat Meen表示他自1992年開始,就使用McLaren這個名字了生產鞋子,而且他並不知道有個叫McLaren的F1賽車隊,而當年,McLaren International Ltd也沒有在大馬設立任何公司。
McLaren International Ltd在高庭失敗了,就到上訴庭去上訴。上訴庭駁回了有關上訴,並認為既然McLaren International Ltd在Lim Yat Meen注冊這名字前,並無在大馬使用有關名字,因此Lim Yat Meen有權處理他注冊的有關名字。
上訴庭認為,Lim Yat Meen根本不必做些不實際的行動,如到全世界去搜查或詢問有關商標名字的擁有者是否要來大馬注冊。一名奉公守法的業主,不必因為某些外國公司提出無理的商標要求,就回避或停止業務。

Microsoft Corporation對壘Yong Wai Hong

IEV International Pty Limited對壘Sadacharamani a/l Govindasamy

答:1987年版權法令(Copyright Act 1987)。
問:私人及自用(private and domestic use)是甚麼意思?





Protecting your Intellectual Property Rights in Malaysia

This article was published in the December 2012 issue of The Bridge, a quarterly magazine published by the Malaysia Canada Business Council.

In this article, Mr. Foong Cheng Leong briefly sets out the intellectual property rights protected in Malaysia.

Foong Cheng Leong is an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya and also a registered Malaysian trade mark, industrial designs and patent agent. He is also the co-Chairman of the Kuala Lumpur Bar Information Technology Committee and a member of the Malaysian Bar Council Intellectual Property Committee.

The recognition of intellectual property rights in Malaysia started as early as the 1800s during the Straits Settlement days. As the years go by, laws to protect intellectual property rights were expanded. Malaysian intellectual property laws are fairly similar with the laws of other Commonwealth countries and more or less in accordance with international practice.

Trade Mark

A trade mark is an important asset for all businesses. It consists of a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral or any combination thereof. It provides their owners with the legal right to prevent others from using an identical or confusingly similar mark.

In Malaysia, the laws that govern trade mark rights can be found under the Trade Marks Act 1976 and Trade Marks Regulations 1997. Trade mark proprietors can choose to protect their marks through the process of registration. This gives the registered proprietors exclusive right over the trade marks thus allowing them to take legal action against anyone who infringes their rights.

The trade mark registration process is administered by the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (also known as MyIPO. Website at ). Prior to filing an application, an applicant is advised to conduct a search at the Trade Mark Register to determine whether there are any identical or similar trade marks that were filed. Such search would be useful to the applicant to determine whether to use or file their trade mark in Malaysia.

Further, when deciding whether to register a mark in Malaysia, one must ensure that the mark is distinctive. A distinctive mark means a mark that is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of the proprietor from other traders.

The registration process in Malaysia normally takes about 1 to 2 years. Upon registration, the proprietor will be issued a Certificate of Registration valid for ten (10) years and it is renewable every ten (10) years.


Copyright protects various type of works such as literacy works which covers novel, lyrics, articles, computer program and so on; dramatic works such as dance choreography; artistic works such as paintings, photographs or any logos, drawings; musical works; recordings; broadcasts and finally, layouts. However, it does not cover procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such. The law regarding copyright protection in Malaysia can be found under the Copyright Act 1987.

Effective from 1 June 2012, it is possible to make a notification of copyright under the Copyright Act 1987 and Copyright (Voluntary Notification) Regulations 2012 with MyIPO. A notification of copyright can be made by the author of a work, the owner of the copyright in a work, an assignee of the copyright or a licensee of an interest in the copyright.

The notification of copyright will be prima facie evidence of copyright and is useful when dealing with copyright infringement proceedings.

Industrial Designs

Industrial designs right is an intangible right to the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process or means, being features which in the finished article appeal to and are judged by the eye. Industrial designs law is governed by the Industrial Designs Act 1996 and Industrial Designs Regulations 1999 in Malaysia.

However, industrial design does not include the method of construction of the device or features of shape or configuration of an article which are (1) dictated solely by the function which the article has to perform, or (2) dependent upon the appearance of another article of which the article is intended by the designer to form an integral part.

An applicant may file an application to protect their rights with MyIPO. It must be highlighted that the applicant must file their industrial design first before they could disclose the same e.g by way of sale to the public failing which the design will not be considered as new.

A registered industrial design is given an initial protection period of 5 years from the date of filing and is renewable for a further two consecutive terms of 5 years each.


Patents are grants given to owners by the government which give the owner an exclusive right over the invention that they have created. Invention can cover product or processes. The protection also gives the owner the exclusive right to stop others from manufacturing, using and/or selling the owner’s invention in Malaysia without the owner’s consent or permission.

For the invention to be patentable, it needs to be new, involves inventive steps and industrially applicable. A “minor invention” can also be as an utility innovation granted provided that it is new and industrially applicable.

A patent and utility innovation can be protected by filing an application with MyIPO. A patent is protected twenty (20) years from the date of filing and a utility innovation is protected with an initial period of ten (10) years and is renewable for a two consecutive terms of five (5) years each.

Malaysia has acceded to the Patent Cooperation Treaty thus the PCT international application can be filed at MyIPO where MyIPO is acting as the Receiving Office for the international filing of PCT application.

Geographic Indications

A geographical indication helps to indicate the geographical origin of certain goods and possess unique qualities or characteristics that essentially represent the good’s place of origin. Basically, it points to the place where the goods or the characteristics of the goods are originated from. In Malaysia, “Sabah Tea’, ‘Tenom Coffee” and “Borneo Virgin Coconut Oil’ are registered geographical indication.

Only producers carrying on their activity in the geographical area specified in the Register shall have the right to use a registered geographical indication in the course of trade. The right of use be in respect of the products specified in the Register in accordance to the qualify, reputation or characteristic specified in the Register.

The current law in Malaysia that governs the protection of geographical indications can be found under Geographical Indications Regulations 2001.

Applicant can register geographic indications with the MyIPO. However, if the geographic indications are not found in Malaysia, then an agent shall be appointed in Malaysia. A registered geographical indication is given ten (10) years of protection from the date of filling and is renewable for every ten (10) years.

Confidential Information

Confidential information in this context usually means any information that is kept private and is not disclosed to the public. For examples, any new product design, trade secrets, software, business information, marketing strategy and so on.

There is no formal registration process for confidential information in Malaysia. It is possible to sue parties for breach of confidence.


All businesses that wish to invest or trade in Malaysia should consider registered their rights in Malaysia. As Intellectual Property rights are generally territorial, one should take all steps to secure their rights before investing or trading. For example, if a foreign entity discovers that a local company is trading in the same trade mark as the former and earlier than the former in Malaysia, the former should consider using another trade mark or purchase the said trade mark from the latter provided that there is no element of misappropriation.

The author would like to acknowledge Lim Chia Ann for her assistance in preparing this article.

Shaifubahrim Bin Mohd (as President and Council Member of Persatuan Industri Komputer dan Multimedia Malaysia (PIKOM) and representing all members of PIKOM) v EM Exhibitions (M) Sdn Bhd & Anor

Kuala Lumpur High Court Suit No: D5 – 22IP – 76 – 2010

Plaintiff is the owner of registered trade mark “PC Fair”. The Defendants in this case had used the trade mark “PC Expo” for their computer exhibition.

Plaintiff initiated an action against the Defendants for trade mark infringement, passing off and breach of confidence.

The High Court dismissed the Plaintiff’s action for trade mark infringement and passing off but allowed the action for breach of confidence.

Download: [Judgement]

Kuang Pei San Food Producs Public Company Limited v Wes Marketing Co Sdn Bhd (No 2)

Sabah and Sarawak High Court Suit No. S22-231-2009-III

Trade mark infringement, passing off and copyright infringement of the brand SMILING FISH. Plaintiff succeeded in trade mark and copyright infringement but not passing off due to failure to prove damage.

Judgement: [Download]

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