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Types of Intellectual Property Rights in Malaysia

Intellectual Property are legal rights associated with creativity, inventiveness, efforts, reputation and goodwill. Malaysia recognises the following Intellectual Property Rights:

1. Trademarks;

2. Copyright;

3. Industrial Design;

4. Patents and Utility Innovation;

5. Trade Secrets & Confidential Information;

6. Geographical Indication;

7. Layout Design of an Integrated Circuit;

8. New Plant Varieties - Breeder's Right.

Briefly, the following are basic descriptions of each right:


Trademarks are trade name, logo, brand, or any indication of origin which indicates that the particular goods or services originate from a particular source. Protection of registered trademarks are afforded by the Trademarks Act 2019. For unregistered trademarks, protection is available in common law under the tort of passing off.


Copyright is a right granted to protect expression of ideas. Category of works recognised under Malaysian Copyright Act 1987 are literary works, musical works, artistic works, films, sound recordings, broadcast and derivative works. Examples of works that are protected by copyright are software, books, songs, movies, drawings, photographs, translations, adaptations etc.

Industrial Design (ID)

ID right is a protection afforded to features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process. The finished article with such features must appeal to the eye. In order to obtain registration of ID, it must be new, assessed on a worldwide basis. Examples of goods that could be afforded ID protection are containers, furniture, electronic gadgets, household items etc.

Patents & Utility Innovation (UI)

Patents and UI rights are afforded to inventions. In order to be granted a patent right, the invention must be novel, it must involve an inventive step and it must be industrially applicable. A UI on the other hand does not require inventive step to be satisfied. However, the invention must still be novel and industrially applicable.

Trade Secrets & Confidential Information (CI)

Examples of information that are protected as Trade Secrets or CI are software source codes, ideas that are not in the public domain, recipe, client list, customer list, cost price list, any and all information that are a secret or confidential and not available in the public domain. The protection is afforded in common law under the tort of breach of confidence.

Geographical Indication (GI)

GI means an indication which identifies any goods as originating from a locality, country or territory where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is essentially attributable to their geographical origin. For example, Champagne, Scotch Whisky, Sabah Tea, Sarawak Pepper, Tenom Coffee, Langkawi Cheese etc.

Layout Design of an Integrated Circuit (LDIC)

LDIC is a protection afforded to three-dimensional disposition, however expressed, of the elements of an integrated circuit and some or all of the interconnections of the integrated circuit.

New Plant Varieties - Breeder's Right

A registration of a new plant variety grants the registrant with breeder's right. The right is governed by the Protection of New Plant Varieties Act 2004 and the intention is to provide for the protection of the rights of breeders of new plant varieties. It is also intended to recognise and protect contribution made by farmers, local communities and indigenous people towards the creation of new plant varieties and to encourage investment in and development of the breeding of new plant varieties.

The author is one of our partners practising in intellectual property laws. If you require further information or assistance, he can be contacted at

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