Introduction to the Concepts and Importance of Intellectual Property
Intellectual Property is the result of an idea that is developed over time and effort into a concept that is original, unique and potentially very valuable.
These creations of the human mind receive formal and exclusive protection through statutory Rights that are granted to the creators for their Intellectual Property based on a gamut of national and international legislation.
The two broad categories of Intellectual Property are Industrial Property and Copyright.
Industrial Property includes the following main branches:
  • Patents to protect Inventions
  • Designs to protect the Aesthetic appearance of industrial products
  • Trademarks to protect Signs which distinguish the goods or services of one enterprise from those of another
  • Geographical Indications to protect goods that have a specific Geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that place of origin
Copyright, also known as Author’s Rights, include Artistic Creations such as:
  • Artistic Works
  • Audio Visual Works
  • Literary Works
  • Databases (including Computer Programmes)
  • Musical Works
  • Cinematographic works
All countries have Intellectual Property laws not only to protect the moral and economic rights of creators together with the rights of the public to access their creations – but also to enable the fostering of a greater creative environment through the sharing of such results - in turn leading to higher levels of economic and social development, competitiveness, as well as fair trade.
While formal protection is provided for Industrial Property in Malta through registration at the Commerce Department, Copyright works, although not formally registered, still receive statutory protection automatically once they are placed in the public domain.
Various levels of international protection for Industrial Property also exist through regional as well as global registrations with International IP Offices that Malta is a national member of, namely:
  • The European Union Intellectual Property Office, which is the European Union’s Agency providing Trademark and Design protection throughout all its current 27 Member States
  • The European Patent Organisation, which is the intergovernmental organisation providing Patent protection throughout its current 36 Member States
  • The World Intellectual Property Organisation, which is the United Nations organisation dedicated to ensuring that the rights of creators and owners of intellectual property are protected worldwide and that inventors and authors are thus recognised and rewarded for their ingenuity