The significance of intellectual property (IP) isn’t always appreciated, especially the role it plays in an increasingly knowledge-driven economy. Most, if not all businesses are sparked by an idea, and the reality is that the millions of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating around the world always start their day with new and fresh business ideas and bringing them to the marketplace.
World Intellectual Property Day is observed annually on 26th April and was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000 to “raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks, and designs impact on daily life” and “to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe”.
Based on this year’s theme of the national celebration, it is very important for SME entrepreneurs in Malaysia to register their products as IP because registered IP can be the most important asset that can drive the development of the business ecosystem, economic recovery, and human development. IP protection further provides the owners of industrial design, copyrights, patents, trademarks, and geographical indications as well as utility innovations a monopoly over an invention or an original work for a specific period of time. Apart from ensuring the owners have unrestricted rights over their invention or works, the protection also serves as a means to secure a return on investment from the innovation.
The Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) chairman, Datuk Mohamad Alamin, explained that SMEs make about 90% of businesses worldwide, use about 50% of the global workforce, and are capable of generating up to 40% of a country’s national income. However, ironically, many SME entrepreneurs, especially in Malaysia, do not realize that they can use IP and all its rights to build a stronger, more competitive, and resilient business, especially in the face of the current difficult COVID-19 pandemic challenge.
IP is a creation of the mind – encompassing everything from works of art to inventions, to commercial signs such as names, symbols, and designs that are used for trading. IP consists of six components, namely:
Patent – a patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.
Trademark – a trademark is any sign that includes names, signatures, words, numerals, or any combination thereof, and is capable of being represented graphically to distinguish goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.
Industrial Design – an industrial design means features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article that appeals to the eyes.
Geographical Indication – a geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. The qualities, reputation or characteristics of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin.
Copyright – Copyright is an exclusive right given to copyright owners for a certain period of time over their copyrighted works.
Layout-Design of Integrated Circuits – a layout design of an integrated circuit is the three-dimensional disposition of the elements of an integrated circuit and some or all of the interconnections of the integrated circuit or such three-dimensional disposition prepared for an integrated circuit intended for manufacture.
NEED FOR RAISING AWARENESS
An issue still to be considered is the low level of awareness in the community, which is one of the main factors why people in the country are not registering their IP, coupled with the lack of knowledge about the advantages and benefits of IP registration businesses.
There remains a perception among SME entrepreneurs that IP protection is just an option. Generally, they pay less attention to the protection of innovations just because it is ‘not mandatory’ but they do not realize that their IP is exposed to the risk of being plagiarized and even registered as someone else’s IP.
Statistics show that the percentage of IP applications dropped from 24,245 (in 2019) to only 20,101 (in 2020). Similarly, applications from foreigners dropped from 31,941 (in 2019) to 30,797 (in 2020). Local applications are still low compared to the trend in the Southeast Asian region, and this is also affected by the spread of COVID-19 besides the implementation of the Movement Control Order (in March 2020), with MyIPO having restricted IP filing to online only.
Besides that, there is also a misconception among entrepreneurs that IP registration is expensive, they look towards the return of investment from said IP registration and commercialization of their patented products. In developed countries, private companies are actually the front runners. However, in developed countries such as Malaysia, it is the other way around because R&D is not a cheap exercise, especially as success is not guaranteed. Business owners should view IPs as an investment. IP is an intangible asset that must be protected. The law says whatever is not claimed is disclaimed, which means that if they do not protect their IP, they have effectively disclaimed their rights to the IP, and therefore, third parties may copy their product if they do not have that trademark, copyright, or patent. SMEs should appreciate that IP is not what they require when they are in trouble, IP is needed because they will never know when they will get stuck with a legal suit.
STAYING THE COURSE
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SME Corporation Malaysia, Rizal Nainy, said that it is important for entrepreneurs to focus on short-term as well as long-term business plans to ensure that the rights and originality of their products or services can survive the market and are not easily imitated by other entrepreneurs.
Apart from SME Corporation Malaysia, IP investment bank Piece Future and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) are continuing to provide awareness on IP through various channels to ensure entrepreneurs know their rights, as well as encourage entrepreneurs to register their IP to protect their businesses in the long run.
One such awareness campaign named IPHatch Malaysia is a collaboration between Piece Future and MDEC to “supercharge businesses within Malaysia through technologies from renowned multi-national corporations.” IPHatch Malaysia is a regional open-innovation challenge that offers patents from patent owners such as Nokia, Panasonic, and Ricoh, to award-winning business proposals from startups and entrepreneurs, whereby winners of IPHatch Malaysia will get to enjoy outstanding platform support from established incubators programs and venture capital firms that collectively offer an invaluable ecosystem of venture funding and mentorship in IPHatch network cities. The application for IPHatch Malaysia has closed on the 11th of April 2021 and will commence on Thursday, 29th April 2021.
Often inventors and entrepreneurs alike tend to think that they are too small to be copied. However one must remember, “People do not copy start-up products – they copy successful products.”
Any individual and/or corporation looking to register their intellectual property in Malaysia or another ASEAN country to protect their Malaysia patent, Brunei patent, Singapore patent etc. should look no further. We, Pintas Group, are your optimum selection to go for any intellectual property registration (including, but not limited to trademark registration, patent registration, etc.) or any IP services in any ASEAN country.
Please visit our website or contact us at +6012-797 5077 should you require our assistance.
Piece Future & MDEC collaborate to encourage startups to power growth using IP | Digital News Asia
IP the way to go for SME entrepreneurs (themalaysianreserve.com)
IP: The importance of intellectual property in economic development | The Edge MarketsWorld Intellectual Property Day – Wikipedia