On March 11, 2019, Myanmar’s new Patent Law was enacted. This is the first piece of law in Myanmar’s history to deal exclusively with patent protection. The Directorate of Patents of the Intellectual Property Office, established under the Ministry of Commerce, will be responsible for enforcing the Law. Proper implementing regulations have not yet been released but will do so soon.
A Registrar, a department for the registration and recordable of patent rights, and Examiners for the administration and carrying out of certain responsibilities and duties relating to patents, as well as carrying out other IP-related duties, are among the new additions to the Patent Law.
PATENT IN MYANMAR
According to the new Patent Law, the Ministry of Commerce will establish a Myanmar Intellectual Property Office with a registrar, a department, and examiners to manage first-to-file patent registrations. The Patent Law protects both utility models (petty patents), which have a duration of 10 years, and patents, which have a term of 20 years. The requisites for an invention to be patentable—novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability—apply, albeit small patents are exempt from the requisites for creative step. In line with other jurisdictions, Myanmar will not grant patents for discoveries, scientific ideas, mathematical techniques, business practises, systems, or computer programmes. Methods for treating the human and animal body as well as innovations relating to naturally occurring chemicals and their novel uses are also not patentable.
It’s important to note that while chemical items for agricultural uses, food products, and microbiological products are exempt from protection until July 1 2021, pharmaceutical products are not until January 1 2033. These exemptions are established in accordance with the prolonged transitional period for least-developed nation members of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) to exempt specific inventions.
With the filing of a certified translation as instructed by the registrar, patent applications may be filed in either English or Burmese. According to the Paris Convention, priority may be asserted, and applicants have up to 36 months from the date of filing to request a substantive examination. A Myanmar patent also allows for the request of a compulsory licencing.
Once put into effect, the collection of patent laws will open the door for the development of a well-organized and comprehensive patent regime, bringing Myanmar closer to parity with other countries’ legal systems and norms.