IP Protection in the Food & Beverages Industry in Malaysia

Malaysia’s food & beverage industry is growing rapidly, with a revenue of over 25 billion EUR in 2015 and an annual growth rate of 7.6%, making the country attractive for European SMEs.

Malaysia has a large Muslim population and has, thus, strong consumer demand for imported beef, mutton and other halal products. This means that importers should be aware that all slaughtered food must possess halal certification and adhere to specific labeling requirements.

Malaysia’s rapidly growing middle class constitutes a consumer base that is increasingly health-conscious, pays attention to the nutrition value of the food, prefers minimally processed fresh food and tends to trust foreign (western) brands when it comes to packaged food.

Together with rapid economic growth, counterfeiting in food products has also increased dramatically in recent years. Thus, the EU SMEs should take steps to ensure that their IP rights are protected, when selling their food products to Malaysia.
IPR are very relevant in the food & beverage industry, such as Trade Marks, Geographical Indications, Design and Trade Secrets.

Trade Mark Protection in Malaysia

Increasing brand consciousness, concerns about food safety and the relatively high number of counterfeiting in the country mean that brand reputation is especially important in Malaysia. A trustworthy brand can be critical to the success of food & beverage products as company’s trade mark functions as a badge of quality.

Malaysia adopts a ‘first-to-file’ system, meaning that the first person to register a trade mark owns that mark, regardless of the first use. It is particularly important for the SMEs to register trade mark in Malaysia because trademark piracy due to ‘bad faith’ registration is a serious problem. ‘Bad faith’ registration means that a third party, not owning the trade mark, registers European SME’s trade mark, thereby preventing the legitimate owner from registering it. These unscrupulous companies would normally then try to resell the trade mark to its owner at an inflated price.

Read more about trade mark protection in Malaysia, geographical indications, industrial design patents and trade secrets by visiting www.mbb.org.mt

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