Macau is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. Until 1999 it was a territory under the administration of Portugal when it was handed over back to China.

Macau is the World’s biggest gaming destination, recording in 2015 4 times more than Las Vegas), 29 million visitors of which 51% are from Mainland China. A yearly average GDP growth of 14% in the past ten years, is making Macau the World’s fastest-growing economy.

Because of this International companies have raced to protect their Intellectual Property rights in Macau, driving a steady increase in filings. To be successful in booming Macau, a Macau registration is essential as China and Hong Kong protection does not extend to Macau.

Macau possesses comprehensive laws which ensure the protection of intellectual property mainly, in two legal acts: The Industrial Property Code and the Copyright and related rights Code.

Protection derives also from international treaties in force in Macau such as:

  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works; 
  • Geneva Universal Copyright Convention;
  • Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Paris Union);
  • Nice Agreement (International Classification of Goods and Services);
  • The Agreement on Industrial Property Rights in Relation to Trade (TRIPS).

Protection in Macau is obtained after successful registration of a filing, made by a Macau Resident or Company or by an attorney, with our local Registrar (i.e., the Economic Services).

Intellectual property rights such as Trademarks, Topography maps of semi-conductor products, Patents, Industrial Models & Designs, Names and Logos of Business Establishment, Origin and Geographical Indications and Awards are regulated in detail since 1999.

Patents

Any inventions, in any area of technology, pertaining to products or processes for obtaining products, substances or compositions, even if they involve a product composed of biological matter or that contains biological matter or a process that permits the production, processing or use of biological matter, are patentable provided that such inventions are novel, involve an inventive step (if, for a person skilled in the art, the result is not obvious from the prior art), are industrially applicable (if its subject matter can be manufactured or used in any type of industrial or commercial activity) and do not belong to any of the categories of excluded subject matter.

Macau acknowledges both invention and utility patents.

Furthermore, the applicant or holder of a patent in the People’s Republic of China or EPO may request the extension of the application or of the patent to Macau, within 3 months after an application was made or a patent was granted in the People’s Republic of China or by the EPO.

Registration of an invention patent is taking 3 years from receipt of application and 2 years for an utility patent provided that there are no deficiencies in the application and no objections are raised.

Invention patents (or extended invention patents) are protected for 20 years, from date of application (or the date of application in China) and utility patents for 6 years (plus 4 year extensions).

In accordance with the Industrial Property Juridical Regime, inventions that are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application are patentable even if they concern a product consisting of or containing biological material or a process by means of which biological material is produced, processed or used.

Under the said Code, the following are considered unpatentable:

  • Discoveries, as well as scientific theories and mathematical methods;
  • Materials or substances already existing in nature and nuclear material;
  • Aesthetic creations;
  • Projects, principles and methods of carrying out intellectual activities in the field of play or in the field of economic activities, and computer programs as such;
  • The presentations of information;
  • Inventions whose commercial exploitation is contrary to law, public order, public health or morality;
  • Methods of surgical or therapeutic treatment of the human or animal body and diagnostic methods applied to the human or animal body excluding products, substances or compositions used in any of these methods;
  • Plant varieties or animal breeds, as well as essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals;
  • the human body, at any stage in its formation or development, including the sequence or partial sequence of a gene;
  • processes for cloning human beings;
  • processes for modifying the germ line genetic identity of human beings;
  • uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes;
  • processes for modifying the genetic identity of animals that are likely to cause them suffering without any substantial medical benefit to man or animal, and also animals resulting from such processes.

Scope of protection

A patent scope of protection is determined by the content of the claims, the description and drawings which serve to interpret them.

If the subject-matter of the patent relates to a process, the rights conferred by that patent cover the products obtained directly by the patented process.

The protection conferred by a patent relating to a biological material, which, by virtue of the invention, possesses certain properties, covers any biological material obtained from said biological material by reproduction or multiplication, in identical or differentiated form, and endowed with those same properties.

The protection conferred by a patent relating to a process for the production of a biological material which, by virtue of the invention, has certain properties, covers the biological material directly obtained by that process and any other biological material obtained from the biological material obtained directly , by reproduction or multiplication, in identical or differentiated form and endowed with these same properties.

The protection conferred by a patent on a product which contains genetic information or which consists of genetic information covers any subject matter, subject to the provisions of Article 62 (3) (a), where the product is Incorporated and in which it is contained and performs its function.

Patent Protection of Medicinal Products and Phyto-pharmaceutical products in Macao SAR

The legal system of Macao is strongly influenced by the Portuguese legal system, much as Macau has been administered by Portugal for more than 400 years.

However, in what concerns pharmaceuticals and phyto-pharmaceuticals patents, the differences between Macau and Portuguese IP Laws are stricking. Macau grants protection to medicinal and phyto-pharmaceutical products based on a supplementary protection certificate issued in accordance with the patent holder's application for the protection of such products in Macao. This is a long-term protection system aimed to compensate for the loss of the protection period during the search for administrative authorization for placing on the market of the patent holder for medicinal products and phyto-pharmaceuticalproducts.

It is also determined that the duration of the supplementary certificate may not exceed by more than 7 years the duration of the patent on the basis of which it is granted. Regulatory determination further states that the supplementary protection certificate may only be issued once for a type of medicinal product or phyto-pharmaceutical product.