IP/Legal Practice In Myanmar

Myanmar’s new Patent Law was enacted on March 11, 2019. This is the first legislation in the history of Myanmar to specifically address the issue of patent protection. The Law will be administered by the Directorate of Patents at the Intellectual Property Office, established under the Ministry of Commerce. Proper implementing regulations are not yet issued and will be issued in due course.

The new Patent Law introduces among others, a Registrar, a Department for the registration and recordable of patent rights, and examiners for the administration and carrying out of specific functions and duties related to patents, and executing other IP-related duties.

Some of the most notable features of the law include the following:

  • Introduction of both patents and utility models (“petty patents”).
  • Term: 20 years from filing date for patents and 10 years from filing date for petty patents.
  • Requirements for patentability: novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability for patents; petty patents do not have to fulfill the requirements for inventive step.
  • Filing in English and Burmese possible; certified translation in the other language required upon request of the registrar.
  • Priority claim based on Paris Convention possible.
  • Publication of applications after 18 months from filing/priority.
  • Substantive examination upon request from the applicant within 36 months from filing.
  • Provisions for compulsory licensing.
  • Protection of pharmaceutical products is not possible (exemption for least developed countries until 1 January 2033).

Currently, a patent is registerable under section 18(f) of the Registry Act and can be protected by filing a declaration of ownership under the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, with the Myanmar Registry Office for Deeds and Assurances. Except ensuring that the application is in compliance with the Registration Act, there is no formality test, opposition, or publishing in a patent journal.

In order to avoid any possible passing-off and infringement of the rights over the patent, the patent holder can publish a Cautionary Notice disclosing basic information about the patented invention in a local newspaper. This publication of patent is not mandatory however, it is strongly recommended as there is no patent search mechanism in Myanmar.

The current procedure for renewal of registration of patents is usually once in every three-year by way of re-registration in the form of Declaration or re-publication in the local daily newspapers; or both.

Myanmar is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a signatory to the TRIPS Agreement. Myanmar has agreed to conform to the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement by 2021. In order to encourage technological progress and foreign investment and industrial growth in the region, the draft plan of Myanmar’s new Patent Law aims to set up the required legal framework for intellectual property rights in Burma.

The Myanmar government has started drafting the Intellectual Property Law in line with such Agreement since 2004. This draft has been repeatedly amended and has not yet been finalized and adopted.

Patent Application Requisite Information

Patent applications can be filed in English or Myanmar language, but the registrar may request the submission of a certified translation in either language. Applications should contain:

  1. The request for grant of a patent;
  2. The applicants’ names, nationalities or countries of incorporation, and addresses;
  3. The inventors’ names, nationalities, and addresses;
  4. The representative or agent’s name, national registration card number, and address;
  5. Patent specifications and drawings;
  6. One or more patent claims;
  7. Priority documents, if applicable; and
  8. The request for early publication, if applicable.