Myanmar’s Patent Law takes effect: a new era for invention protection
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Myanmar’s Patent Law takes effect: a new era for invention protection

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As legislation reshaping Myanmar’s intellectual property landscape comes into force, Khin Myo Myo Aye and Yuwadee Thean-ngarm of Tilleke & Gibbins outline the key provisions and consider the implications for rights holders

Myanmar’s first dedicated patent legislation, the 2019 Patent Law, officially took effect on May 31 2024, marking a crucial step towards the successful administration of a comprehensive statutory framework for patent protection in Myanmar, aligning the country more closely with international intellectual property (IP) standards.

Official announcement and implementation

The State Administration Council formalised the law’s activation through Notification No. 106/2024, issued on June 1 2024. While the law is now in effect, full implementation is still on the horizon, and awaits further regulatory developments. Key among these are:

  • The announcement of the Patent Rules, which will delineate the specific requirements, official forms, and procedures for patent and utility model applications and registrations; and

  • The publication of official forms and fee schedules by the Intellectual Property Department for patent-related matters.

Once these additional components are in place, stakeholders will be able to initiate the process of patent registration in Myanmar.

Key provisions of the Patent Law

The Patent Law establishes clear criteria for patentable inventions. To qualify for protection, an invention must meet the following conditions:

  • Novelty – the invention must not have been disclosed to the public anywhere, by any means, prior to the filing date or priority date (if claimed);

  • Inventive step – the invention must involve an inventive step that would not be obvious to a person skilled in the relevant field; and

  • Industrial applicability – the invention must be capable of use in any industry.

These criteria align with international standards for patent protection, providing a solid foundation for inventors and companies seeking to protect their innovations in Myanmar.

Priority rights and international agreements

The new law incorporates provisions for priority rights, allowing applicants to claim priority within one year of filing an application with any World Trade Organization member country. This provision is particularly beneficial for international applicants seeking to extend their patent protection to Myanmar.

It is important to note that Myanmar has not yet ratified the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property or the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Consequently, priority rights under these agreements cannot currently be claimed. However, the Patent Law includes provisions related to these international agreements, which will become operational upon Myanmar’s ratification.

Implications for rights holders

The implementation of the Patent Law represents a significant shift in Myanmar’s approach to invention protection. Key points for rights holders to consider include:

  • Evaluation of portfolios – companies and inventors should begin assessing their invention portfolios to identify which innovations may benefit from protection under the new law.

  • Preparation for registration – while awaiting the final procedural announcements, stakeholders should prepare necessary documentation and strategies for patent applications.

  • End of previous practices – the new law supersedes previous recordation practices. Notably, recordation of inventions and renewals of patents recognised under the former system will no longer be accepted.

  • Statutory protection – rights holders can now claim statutory protection and exclusive rights for their inventions under the new Patent Law regime.

Looking ahead

The activation of Myanmar’s Patent Law marks a milestone in the country’s IP development. As Myanmar continues to refine its IP framework, businesses and inventors should stay informed about forthcoming announcements regarding the Patent Rules and official procedures.

This new era of patent protection in Myanmar presents both opportunities and challenges for rights holders. Proactive engagement with the new system will be crucial for those seeking to secure and enforce their patent rights in this emerging market.

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