Myanmar’s Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law No. 7/2019 (“Patent Law”) was approved on 11 March 2019; implementation is still pending. It follows the Trademark and Industrial Design Laws which were approved on 30 January 2019.

Under the old patent registration system, Myanmar has no intellectual property laws or legal framework for filing and prosecuting patent applications. The Office recognises patent rights upon receipt of a Declaration of Ownership of Patent from an owner of a patent, based on a granted foreign patent, and can directly accord patent rights in Myanmar. After receipt of the Declaration of Ownership of Patent, the patent owner must publish a Cautionary Notice in a local newspaper every three years to assert ownership of the patent.

The new Patent Law introduces amongst other things, a Registrar, a Department for the registration and recordal 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.

The requirements broadly follow international practice including filing requirements. Noteworthy points are that the patent application must be in the Myanmar or English language (or as prescribed, with a verified translation); a written agreement for joint applicants; any request for early publication; and payment of prescribed fees. Priority may be claimed under Paris Convention/ WTO as well as (one year) exhibition priority.

The applicant will be notified if the patent filing requirements are not met, and then have 60 days to conform. Otherwise, the application shall be deemed withdrawn, but with the possibility to re-apply, subject to explanation and prescribed fees.

The Registrar will make a public announcement by the end of the 18th month from the filing date, or earlier (if early publication was requested). Any third party opposing an application must submit an objection to the Registrar within 90 days from the announcement date along with payment of the required fee. Substantive examination must be requested within 36 months from the filing date. The term of a granted patent in Myanmar is 20 years from the filing date. Annual renewal fees are payable.

In accordance with TRIPS, (a) pharmaceutical products or production processes are considered ineligible subject -matter for patent protection until 1 January 2033, and (b) chemical products used in agriculture, food products, and microbiological material are considered ineligible subject-matter for patent protection until 1 July 2021, unless specified otherwise by the Government.

The Patent Law also provides for registration of “minor inventions” (like “utility models” or “petty patents”). It must be novel and industrially applicable. Ineligible subject-matter: (i) phases of a working process, (ii) chemical, pharmaceutical, biological, or mineral substances or compounds, or other substances or compounds, (iii) objects prohibited from patent protection, and (iv) sculptures, architecture or natural ornaments. The term for a minor invention is ten years.

At any time prior to the grant or refusal of a minor invention, the minor invention may be converted into a patent application (and vice versa), in which event the filing date will be the original filing date.

A version of this article was first published in the membership journal of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys – see more at http://www.cipa.org.uk/