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I. LEGAL BASIS
At present, Myanmar has no IP Laws. Therefore, it also has no specific IP Governing Body as yet. In Myanmar, as domestic legislations, IP rights are protectable under the following existing laws:
1. Myanmar Penal Code (1861)
2. The Specific Relief Act (1877)
3. The Sea Customs Act (1878)
4. The Registration Act (1909)
5. The Myanmar Copyright Act (1914)
6. Myanmar Foreign Investment Law (1989)
7. Myanmar Citizen Investment Law (1989)
8. The Television and Video Law; and
9. The Computer Science Development Law.
II. PATENT RELATED MATTERS IN MYANMAR
1. Definition of Patents
A patent is a right granted to the owner of an invention to prevent others from making, using, exploiting, importing or selling the invention without his permission. A patent may be obtained for a product or a process that gives a new technical solution to a problem or a new method of doing things, the composition of a new product, or a technical improvement on how certain objects work.
2. Basic information on Patents in Myanmar
Although the Burma Patents and Designs (Emergency Provisions) Act 1946 came into force upon the repeal of the Burma Patents and Designs Act 1945 in 1993, there is presently no law in operation on patents and industrial designs, while only draft laws are pending approval. This means that production, commercial use and trade in goods is possible without permission of the people/companies who may hold the patents or design rights outside Myanmar.
Consequently, in order to seek protection for their products, most entrepreneurs have to invest large amounts in protecting their trade marks through the means locally available in Myanmar so that they can protect at least their brand reputation and goodwill from illegal action related to their products and businesses.
With regard to pharmaceutical products, the National Drug Law has been promulgated since October 1992 and notifications were issued in August 1993 pertaining to drug registration, drug manufacturing, importing, selling and distribution, labelling and advertisements. In January 1995, The Food and Drug Administration Department was established under the Ministry of Health. There are two committees, namely the Drug Advisory Committee, to supervise drug registration matters, and the Central Food and Drug Supervisory Committee, to supervise drug manufacturing and importation.
There are currently drafts of the Patent Law and Industrial Designs Law, issued in July 2015, which are summarized below:
Draft Patent Law
Chapter 5 of the draft patent law holds that a patent must be novel, have an inventive step, and be industrially applicable. The term of a patent is twenty (20) years from the date of the patent application, and annuity fees are to be paid to the registrar for the prescribed periods to maintain the patent registration. Any court proceedings relating to patents will follow the provisions that are enacted for IP courts under the law on industrial designs.
There is presently no functioning system of patent and design protection in Myanmar. Companies should be aware of this limitation and discuss with counsel what strategies may be available.
In order to seek protection for your products, you can consider emphasising trade mark protection in Myanmar to protect your brand reputation and goodwill from illegal action related to your business.
1. Registration approach
There is no practical position of protecting patents and design per se in Myanmar although there has been the Science and Technology Development Law since 1994. The Ministry of Science and Technology was newly established in Myanmar as the focal point ministry, but, till now, there has not yet been Myanmar Patent Office. However, Burma Patents and Designs Act 1945 was repealed in 1993. At the present, the Office of the Attorney-General is drafting the bills on the IP laws in compliance with the TRIPS Agreement due to the fact that Myanmar is a member of WTO, ASEAN, and at the latest, WIPO in 2001. In this interim period, patent may be registered under section 18(f) of the Registration Act as an official record. A patent may be registered with the Registry of Deeds and Assurances by means of Declaration of Ownership, which is a solemn statement of facts made by the patent owner and followed by Cautionary Notice. Publication of Cautionary Notice in a local designated newspaper based on registration is the sole process to remind the public for any possible passing-off and infringement of the right of patent ownership during the period of lack of promulgated law, rules and regulations involved.
There is neither official search system nor private search system for patent in Myanmar since Myanmar has no specific promulgated patent law and is still in the status of accomplishing redrafts on IP laws to be in compliance with TRIPS Agreement. Therefore, it is impossible to now conduct patent search in Myanmar since patent caution is hardly advertised in newspapers/ journals for publication in Myanmar jurisdiction.
There is no examination procedure for patent applications in Myanmar.