Malaysia introduces totally revamped Trademarks Bill

On 9 April 2019 the Malaysian Parliament tabled a new, totally revamped Trademarks Bill 2019 for its first reading. The proposed bill could bring about significant changes to the existing regime for trademark protection and enforcement in Malaysia. It will replace the Trade Marks Act 1976 and, among other things, seeks to put in place the necessary and long-overdue legislative framework for Malaysia’s accession to the Madrid Protocol. On top of this, the bill will introduce new provisions with regard to:

  •  the protection of non-traditional marks;
  • an express provision for the securitisation of registered mark;
  • enhanced statutory protection for registered marks; and
  • improved enforcement mechanisms against counterfeit goods.

1. Accession to the Madrid Protocol

The bill contains express provisions to pave the way for Malaysia’s imminent accession to the Madrid Protocol. In this regard, it seeks to empower the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to prescribe the relevant regulations that will enable Malaysia to full its international obligations under the protocol. The regulations would govern matters relating to the applications for the international registration of marks and the protection accorded to such registrations, among other things.

2. New definition of ‘trademark’ and recognition of non-traditional marks

A famous colour and position trade mark

One of the significant changes proposed by the bill is the new definition of ‘trademark’, removing the definition promulgated by the UK Trademarks Act 1938. The term ‘trade mark’ is now spelled as ‘trademark’ and its definition has been updated to be in line with the modern definition of the word as found in the UK Trademarks Act 1994. A ‘trademark’ is defined as “any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings (Section 3(1)). And ‘sign’ is widely defined to include the following new items:

  • shape of goods or their packaging;
  • colour;
  • sound;
  • scent;
  • hologram;
  • positioning; and
  • sequence of motion.
An example of a sound trade mark registered in Russia

This brings about a significant yet welcome change in trademark practice, as the bill expressly recognises and accordingly grants protection to non-traditional trademarks in keeping with new developments. Owners of such non-traditional marks will soon be able to register them under the new legislation.

3. Trademarks as personal or moveable property and the securitisation thereof

With the objective of further developing a knowledge-based economy and to facilitate the creation of a viable ecosystem for IP trading, the Malaysian Parliament will introduce a new Part IX, which recognises trademark rights as a subject for securitisation. Pursuant to the provisions in this new part, a registered mark will be treated as personal or moveable property and “may be subject of a security interest in the same way as other personal and movable property” (Section 62). Charges may be placed on registered marks, in the same manner as personal or moveable property (Section 64(5)). As a result, the owner of a registered mark will be able to tap into its value and pledge it as a form of security or collateral in any financing arrangement. This would create an added incentive for owners to register their marks, aside from the usual rights accrued from the trademark’s registration.

4. Strengthened statutory relief and remedies for trademark infringement

The bill has also codified the remedies that are ordinarily awarded to successful claimants in an infringement action. These include damages, account of profits, injunctions (including interim injunctions) and mandatory orders. The bill empowers the courts to grant damages to the claimant, as well as to compel the defendant to provide an account of the profits made in cases of flagrant counterfeiting. This is not currently the case, as successful claimants are still required to elect which of the two heads of damages they wish to claim based on common law principles. The courts will also be empowered to grant mandatory orders against defendants, including handing down an order to erase the defendant’s offending sign and the delivery or disposal of the infringing goods, material or articles. With regard to civil actions against counterfeiters, the courts will be given the discretion to grant additional damages to the claimant depending on the flagrancy of the infringement, the benefit gained by the counterfeiter, the need to punish such counterfeiters and other relevant considerations. The bill will also provide relief to any person who is subjected to groundless threats of infringement proceedings. In the circumstances, a claimant may claim for a declaration that the threats are unjustified, an injunction to prevent the threat from continuing and damages for the loss suffered.

5. Enhanced legal enforcement of trademark rights

The logo of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs

Under the existing enforcement regime, criminal charges in respect of the false application of trademarks to goods and services is governed by the Trade Descriptions Act 2011, in particular Section 8. However, it appears that the legislature intends to include and consolidate all the relevant provisions for criminal sanctions against counterfeiting activities involving registered trademarks within the ambit of the bill. A new Part XV titled “Offence” will be introduced, which will consist of extensive provisions relating to trademark counterfeiting offences and the false application of a registered mark to goods or services. With the concurrent introduction of the proposed bill and the Trade Descriptions (Amendment) Bill 2019, it appears that the Malaysian legislature intends to transfer the provisions relating to enforcement of a registered trademark found in the Trade Descriptions Act to the bill. This is evident by the removal of Section 8 (offence relating to application of false trade description involving a registered mark) and placing it under the purview of the bill. This appears to be a logical move given that the subject of protection of Section 8 concerns a registered mark. For the first time, the bill will criminalise the act of counterfeiting a registered mark and falsely applying a registered mark to goods or services. It also criminalises acts of making an article specifically designed or adapted for making copies of a registered mark or a sign likely to be mistaken for it. Any person who imports, sells or exposes for sale or has in their possession, custody or control for the purpose of trade or manufacture any goods to which a registered trademark is falsely applied is guilty of an offence. Hefty penalties for the offences under Part XV are prescribed. Following the above proposed changes, Part XVI, titled “Investigation and Enforcement”, has adopted a substantial part of the provisions in the Trade Descriptions Act with regard to the powers of the enforcement authority. Similar to the powers under the act, enforcement officers will be armed with the powers to investigate, arrest suspects and search and seize goods suspected of being the subject of an offence.

6. Attempts to modernise and streamline registration procedures

As a measure to modernise trademark registration procedures, the bill will introduce the publication of the Intellectual Property Journal (presumably in lieu of the possibly more time-consuming Government Gazette ), electronic ling and issuance of documents via electronic means and issuance of guidance and practice directions. It also seeks to clarify some of the administrative powers of the registrar of trademarks. Besides that, as a bulk of the work of the registrar or assistant registrar is to determine whether the use of a trademark is likely to cause confusion, the bill introduces a new Section 9, which provides that in determining whether the use of a trademark is likely to cause confusion, the registrar may take into account all relevant factors,
including whether the use is likely to be associated with a registered or earlier mark. It is believed that the original intention of this section is to codify guidelines for determining the issue of confusion between two marks. However, as the current wording stands, it appears too brief and general and risks imposing upon the registrar an additional requirement of expanding the scope of such inquiry to include the issue of confusion by association. It is highly doubtful whether the proposed and rather briefly worded Section 9 will provide much assistance to the registrar. The statutory mandate to take into account confusion by association may instead prove to be an additional burden on it.


The bill contains substantial changes to the existing law and practice relating to trademarks in Malaysia. It is a welcomed development as it will bring Malaysian trademark law in line with international standards

Teo Bong Kwang, Wong Jin Nee & Teo
Eugene Ee,  Wong Jin Nee & Teo

June 2019 

Postscript: The Trademark Bill 2019 went through its second reading at the lower house of the Malaysian Parliament with some minor changes on 2 July 2019. The upper house (Senate) approved it on 23 July 2019.  It is expected that the new bill may come into force in early part of 2020.

This article first appeared on WTR Daily, part of World Trademark Review on 18 June 2019. For further information, please go to The images found in this post were inserted by the authors.



大凡藏书杂乱的人都有这种经验:因为书太多而地方不够,同一个架子,往往前后摆放了两排的书籍。一旦要寻找某本书,当然是先浏览书架上放在外排的书籍。但是糟糕的是如果要的书是摆放在后排,那就得大费周章了。尤其当书籍多,塞在几个如墙壁面积大小的书柜时,艰辛度还算不小的。先得把前面一排的书搬下来,放在一边,让后查看后排有没有摆着所要的书。这样的动作,是需要一个书架子一个书架子重复进行,搞了两三个小时,弄到满手灰尘,鼻子受不了灰尘的袭击,而直打喷嚏,仍然找不到。看到桌子地上散落都是书籍心中的那种苦恼,不是过来人恐怕还不能理解。肉体累是一回事,搞到半夜, 还是找不到所要的书籍,开始有点明白什么是“上穷碧落下黄泉,两处茫茫皆不见”。


翻开《风满楼证道文集》的《前言》,得知这是许牧世在1971年,因为参与美国圣经公会进行的《现代中文圣经》的翻译工作,而移居到纽约郊外,住在宅车房的屋顶加上盖子的一间书房,进行翻译圣经与写作的工作。根据许牧世的说法,他把这个书房称为“风满楼“,第一个原因是当年来华的宣教士马礼逊(Robert Morrison)翻译《圣经》时,将”圣灵“翻译为”神风“。其二是《圣经》使徒行传第2章记载,五旬节圣灵降临时,就像一阵大风充满了整个房子。”风满楼“之命名,是渴望圣灵的充满。

我信手翻到第一篇文章,题目为“亚当,你在哪里?” 这是根据《圣经》的第一本书《创世纪》第3章第8到10节所写的一篇讲章。内容说道黄昏中,一阵凉风吹过,亚当听到神走过来的声音,心里畏惧 (因为他吃了禁果),连忙躲藏起来。而上帝发出这个亘古不变的问题:“亚当,你在哪里?” “亚当”其实就是人的意思。神在问:“人呀,你在哪里?” 来到新约,耶稣也说过:“我在门外敲门,若有人听见我的声音就开骂,我要进去。我要跟他一起坐席,他也要跟我一起坐席”,坐席者,吃饭也。能跟另外一个人吃饭,这是一种接纳,友爱的关系。清楚不过,耶稣要与人建立朋友的关系。

记得当年去曼彻斯特探望在哪儿读书的孩子时,某个下午因为有点时间,就到处看看。来到曼彻斯特的博物院。进去浏览,很欣喜地看到一幅叫做”世界之光“的画。这幅画是英国19世纪前拉斐尔的创始人之一威廉·霍尔曼·亨特(William Holman Hunt)所画的。之前在一个叫做“启发课程“的视频里,曾看到这幅图画。据说原作是放在伦敦的圣彼得大教堂。曼彻斯特的博物院的那幅较小。但是画的是一样:耶稣提着一盏灯。在一个满了青藤的门敲着。据说有人告诉画家,你漏了画门柄了。但是亨特说,门的手柄是在里面,是需要里面的人自己把门打开。

最近也在阅读一些关于神存不存在的书籍,众说纷纭,弄到心中也不太实在了。看到许牧世这篇文章,猛然间醒悟过来: 是神一直在寻找我们呀!我们只要打开心门接纳他即可。






癞蛤蟆与小女孩的图像到底是出自那部故事书,我一直想求证一下。因此特意到大众书局,第一个找的就是安徒生的童话集。见了服务员,指定要有插图的。服务眼在电脑前查了查,说没有存货,只有一本Wordsworth出版的集子,但是没有彩色插图。虽然有点失望,还是买下。翻一翻,第一个故事是The Tinder Box ;印象中没有读过这个故事。看看目录,有一个叫做Thumbelina 的故事,只记得这个故事华文翻译为“拇指姑娘”。讲的是有一个像拇指大小的女孩,从花蕊生出来。其他内容已经模糊不清了。翻开读一读,原来一开始就有癞蛤蟆绑架拇指姑娘,让后将她置放在大水中央的荷叶上的一幕。一群鱼儿不忍心拇指姑娘被困,咬断荷茎,拇指姑娘因此得以逃脱,顺着河水漂流到另外一个国度。而故事最后是说,在寒冷阴暗的冬天,拇指姑娘来到一个田鼠的家,田鼠接待她。但不久后,就要将她嫁给他的邻居 — 一年四季住在暗无天日地底下的鼹鼠。在地道里,拇指姑娘看到一只冻僵垂死的燕子。她不忍心它这样躺在地道里,悄悄地用稻草编织的被,盖在燕子身上,整个冬天照顾它,将它救活。冬去春来,燕子飞离。然而到了夏天,燕子又回来了,它叫拇指姑娘坐在它的背上,带她翱翔,飞向一个阳光普照,繁花似锦,果实累累的国度。


为什么大人小孩都喜欢童话故事?就像我会一直想再读读孩提时看过的童话故事,而且那么渴望再次看到那些栩栩如生美丽的图画?大概我们都希望我们的世界不是唯一的世界;除了累人的现实世界,还有一个更好的世界。我们希望这个现实世界可以再次变得神奇起来; 我们希望死亡不是结束;我们希望这个世界不是一个被围起来,封闭的大玻璃瓶,其实除了这个肉眼看得见的世界之外,还有另外一个更好的世界存在。童话故事勾勒出这些令人向往,憧憬的理想世界。它们触动人类心灵深处的对美丽,理想世界的向往。或许现实世界有太多的黑暗,缺陷,失望,悲伤,我们很自然就会渴慕一个更美,更光明,更纯净,更快乐的国度。也难怪许多童话故事的结语是:“ 从此王子与公主快快乐乐地生活在一起。”


童话还有一个特点就是“改变“。比如说丑小鸭一下子变成优雅的天鹅;鼻子长长的木偶变成一个有血有肉真正的小男孩;青蛙被公主一吻,即刻变成了英俊潇洒的王子等。我相信人心里都有一个渴望,即改变现状,改变自己,突破现实的局限,成为一个更好的人。但是往往不得其门而入,不知道如何改变。更甚的是沉溺在某个状况中,无法自拔。所以我个人非常喜欢基督教的说法:“若有人在基督里,他就是新造的人,旧事已过,都变成新的了“。 ” 新造的人“,在英文《圣经》是翻译为new creation,新的创造也。在沉溺中的人需要一个新的开始,犯了错的人需要second chance,一个新的开始。许多人包括我自己,因为这句话,人生得以改变,生命得以再次绽放光彩。

(注:首次发表于2019年6月23日《南洋商报》 eNanyang的《牧羊人》版)

A Tattoo too Easily Erased? LVMH Successfully Defends Suit against its Use of DIOR ADDICT LIP TATTOO

by Teo Bong Kwang and Eugene Ee

In Shizens Cosmetic Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd v LVMH Perfumes and Cosmetics (M) Sdn Bhd (Kuala Lumpur High Court Civil Suit No WA-24IP-21-11/2017), the local company of luxury goods producer LVMH was faced with a trademark infringement suit in respect of its line of products known as “Dior Addict Lip Tattoo” in Malaysia. However, the fame and strength of its DIOR mark helped LVMH to ward off the action brought against it.


Shizens’s Lip Tattoo Lipstick

Shizens, a local cosmetics manufacturer, is the registered proprietor of the LIP TATTOO mark in Class 3 for, among others, cosmetics, make-up preparations and lipsticks. Shizens instituted proceedings against the local chapter of LVMH on the basis that LVMH’s use of the DIOR ADDICT LIP TATTOO mark infringed its LIP TATTOO mark. LVMH launched a counterclaim to remove the LIP TATTOO mark from the Register of Trademarks on the grounds that the words ‘lip tattoo’ were, among other things, not invented words, which is a ground for removal.

High Court decision

The Intellectual Property High Court of Kuala Lumpur disagreed with LMVH’s contention that the LIP TATTOO mark had been wrongly registered. It held, among other things, that the words ‘lip tattoo’ are newly coined words, which are not generic and are not commonly used words that have no obvious meaning until a meaning is assigned to them. In the circumstances, the LIP TATTOO mark could not be removed from the register as it consisted of “invented words” within the meaning of Section 10(1)(c) of the Trademarks Act.

LVMH’s Dior Addict Lip Tattoo Lipstick

However, Shizens’ success in resisting LVMH’s application for removal or expungement was meaningless as the court did not rule in its favour on the issue of trademark infringement. In essence, the court did not agree with Shinzens that there was a likelihood of confusion between LVMH’s mark and the LIP TATTOO mark. The court took the following stand on the issue of the likelihood of confusion between the marks:

  • The presence of the identical word ‘lip’ in the competing marks was inconsequential given that the registration of the LIP TATTOO mark was subject to a disclaimer whereby the registration did not give any right to the exclusive use of the word ‘lip’;
  • The LVMH products, including the Dior Addict Lip Tattoo products, have a relatively better reputation than the Shizens products;
  • The competing marks are phonetically and visually different;
  • The Shizens and LVMH products are sold via different trade channels, in that the latter’s products are sold in boutique outlets in leading department stores, while the former’s products are sold at ‘Shizens’ counters; and
  • Consumers of cosmetic products are generally better informed and more discerning.

Further, it was held that LVMH did not use the words ‘lip tattoo’ as a trademark. Instead, the word or mark DIOR was found to be the indicator of origin of LVMH’s products, including the Dior Addict Lip Tattoo products.


One of the central issues in this case was what constitutes trademark use. The court held that LVMH’s use of the words ‘lip tattoo’ does not amount to use as a trademark, as the words are prefixed by LVMH’s famous DIOR house mark. This reasoning seems wanting since ‘lip tattoo’, being a non-descriptive and non-generic word element, has no other apparent signification apart from the name of a product marketed by LVMH. This seems to contradict the court’s earlier pronouncement that the words ‘lip tattoo’ are invented words which are therefore capable of being registered as a trademark.

Further, it appears that the court placed great emphasis on the finding that the LVMH brand or products are relatively more famous than Shizens’ and that LVMH’s DIOR mark will distinguish it from Shizens’ LIP TATTOO mark. This seems to be a departure from the well-established principle laid down in Saville Perfumery Ld v June Perfect Ld ([1941] RPC 147), where it was held that, once a mark has been shown to offend, the infringer cannot escape liability by showing that something outside the actual mark distinguishes the infringing goods from those of the registered proprietor.





已故许牧世长老(教授)是我相当喜欢的一位基督教作家,他是华人基督教文字工作者的前辈。上个世纪80年代读大学的时候,就接触他的作品。当时觉得他的文章,遣词用字较一般基督教作家来得有文学韵味,内容也清楚扎实。也记得他大力鼓励牧者将讲章写出来,当注意文字,修辞的表达等,让讲章成为美丽的篇章。他个人也奉行这个原则,把一篇篇的讲章写出来,并结集出版。上个月晨砚来了封电邮,叫我在《牧羊人》版开个专栏。我想了想,也翻看书柜内的书,想找点灵感,刚好看到许教授的书《人世与天国之间》,觉得还蛮适合的,就做了一点更动,将“天国” 放在前面,成了栏名。



1950年夏天,许牧世毕业于密苏里(Missouri University)大学新闻系,但毕业后前途茫茫。一年后前金陵大学英文系主任章文新博士(Dr Francis P. Jones)向金陵神学院的管理层建议拨出一部分原本计划用来发展中国神学教育的基金,从事翻译基督教历代名著的工作。这个建议蒙金陵神学院接纳,于是章文新博士在新泽西的哲吾大学(Drew University)设办事处,开始这项负有历史意义的工作。当时章博士亟需一位中国人的助手,于是找到许牧世。从此许牧世就与这个翻译的巨大工程难分难舍,将10年的青春投入之内。在他离开这个工作的时候,已经翻译出版了约二十多本的基督教名著。这一套精装本,封面有者红色,有着蓝色的中文翻译作品,收录的尽是基督教神学家的扛鼎之作,如加尔文的《基督教要义》,卫斯理的《约翰卫斯理日记》,马丁路德的《路德选集》,尼布尔的《人的本性与命运》等,到现在仍然在印刷中,影响了几代的华人基督徒。



幸好,他的讲章流传了下来 (收录在他最后一本书《人世与天国之间》),而《圣经》也永远长存。我们只要打开许牧世的书,同时也打开《圣经》,相信就能明白为什么他一生与《圣经》,与基督教名著朝夕以对,而毫不言倦 。

注:本文首次发表于《南洋商报》eNanyang 《牧羊人》版,2019年4月28日刊。




今天在预备讲章时,看到一个旧的PowerPoint,里面记录了耶鲁大学前任校长布鲁斯特(Kingman Brewster)的墓志铭的一句话:





然而,让我觉得有趣的是,南方朔说:推动人类进步文明的,其实不是什么“公平”,“正义” 之类的抽象慨念,而是比这些慨念还要基本的感情因素。他把它称为“对别人的感觉”。 第一是体会别人对自己的感觉,他说,当人们能体会到别人对自己的感觉,他就会产生愈来愈高的羞耻感。二是面对别人,能越来越体会别人遭遇到某些事情的感觉,这样他就会越来越提高“不安”的门坎。以前对别人做了某事会无动无衷,但随着“不安” 的门坎提高,这种事情就会逐渐不再敢做。愈来愈高的不安标准,会诞生诸如不忍,勇敢,公平,正义等外向的品质。


南方朔所提倡“对别人的感觉” ,使我想起孟子所说的恻隐之心是善端。也想到耶稣曾说的:最大的诫命就是爱神,而第二大诫命是爱人如己;他也说,“人为朋友舍命,人的爱心没有比这个大的“。又说:“你们想要人怎样待你们,你们也要怎样待人,因为这就是律法和先知一切的道理”。





Rembrandts in the Attic – the Forgotten Value of Patent


By Teo Bong Kwang*

0n 26 September 2010, Jimi Heselden, a British businessman who recently bought the Segway company was happily riding the famed “Segway” scooter in his huge Yorkshire estate. In a tragic turn, the Segway scooter ran over the cliff and into a river and Heselden was immediately killed. At that time, Segway scooter was a much touted invention of US inventor Dean Kamen.

A Segway Scooter with driver

Surely not every invention has tragic consequence. On the contrary, many inventions brought much happiness, fame and fortune to their inventors or owners. Take the example of the “One Click” patent of Amazon which was granted by the US Patent Office in 1999. It has reportedly generated billions for Amazon.

The Hidden Value of Patent

Many of us are totally oblivious to the immense commercial value of an invention or for that matter, the importance of an intellectual capital in the form of a patent in any business enterprise.  The vast majority of companies are simply unaware of the often-enormous economic and competitive values that lie untapped within their patent portfolios.  To borrow the euphemism popularized by Kevin Rivette and David Kline, it is like you have Rembrandt paintings lying dustily in the attic.

Balancing Market Monopoly and Public Interest  

The modern history of protecting one’s invention started in Venice in 1474. In the UK, the first piece of legislation which attempted to protect invention was The Statute of Monopolies, 1623. In its own archaic language, it allowed “patent monopolies” for 14 years upon “any manner of new manufacture”. Stripped of legal niceties, it merely meant that the State would grant a monopolistic right in the form of “letters patent” to the inventors.  As a trade-off, the inventors must disclose their inventions in a clear manner so that it can be used by a ‘person ordinarily skilled in the art’. The philosophy of protecting patent is pretty simple:  the State will grant a limited protection for any invention for a period of between 15 to 20 years in exchange of the full technical information related to it. Once the protection period has expired, the inventions are free to be exploited by anyone.  It is believed that with the required statutory protection given by the Government, inventors would be encouraged to engage in more inventive activities and come out with more novel inventions.  This will ultimately benefit the society at large as the innovative ideas as disclosed in the patents will add to the pool of existing technological knowledge in a particular field.  In this manner, society will progress in innovation and it will enjoy the fruits of the inventive members within it.


Photo by Lam Been Koon

Flash of Genius can be Present in Mundane Objects 

The image Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein or a mad scientist with fuzzy hair will immediately come to mind when we talk about invention.  This is of course a myth.  The reality is that not every invention needs to be Einstein-que or earth-shattering like the atomic bomb. On the contrary, a cursory search at Google Patent will show that many mundane objects have been or are still protected by patents. For instance, a gadget to boil eggs, the yellow “post-it” note and the ubiquitous paper clip are subject matters of granted patents. Indeed flash of genius can be present in many mundane objects.

Patent drawings for safety pins

The Requirements for Patenting a New Invention

In 1983, Malaysia has its own national patent legislation.  It is called the Patents Act, 1983.  It came into force on 1 October 1986. Before the passage of this legislation, we could only obtain patent protection by first registering a patent in the United Kingdom and then re-register it in the three component regions of Malaysia. With the passage of the 1983 Act, we could obtain a national patent by filing an application with our local patent office.

The most frequently asked question which an intellectual property law practitioner like me has encountered is: how do I get a patent?

The answer is to first get your invention written down clearly in a document which is commonly called “patent specification”.  However, before this is done, it is imperative that the invention must possess the following requirements:

  • the invention must be “new” in the sense that it has not been disclosed to the public anywhere in the world. The disclosure can be in the form of written publication, actual usage, actual article or even oral presentation or even sample shown in an exhibition;
  • the invention must involve “an inventive step”. The question whether an invention involves an “inventive step” can be asked in another manner: whether the so-called “inventive step” (i.e. the “inventive feature or element”) of the invention is obvious to a person who has ordinary skill or experience in the subject matter; and
  • the invention must be “industrially applicable”. This last requirement is normally easily satisfied as long as the invention can be commercially or industrially exploited. The rationale of this requirement clear, that is it is to prevent granting of patent for some theoretical invention which cannot be put into practical use.

In order for a patent to be valid, all the above three requirements must be present.  Anyone who has some experiences in patent litigation will inform you that most patent litigation are fought on the above three issues.  If a patent is proved to have been lacking in any of the above requirements, it can be cancelled or invalidated. Thus as a prudent measure, before an eager inventor spend enormous money in getting its patent specification drafted, it is advisable to ask the patent drafter to conduct the necessary “searches” to ensure that there are no other prior publications or disclosure which will nullify the invention.

Once the patent specification is properly drafted, the other steps of getting a patent granted are relatively straight-forward. The first step is to fill up the prescribed forms and then file them with the patent office.  You should of course consult a patent lawyer or agent for this important step.

The obtaining of a patent for any innovative breakthrough is an indispensable step to secure a cutting edge for achieving continuous growth of a business in this competitive environment.


* This article first appeared in “Focus” Magazine in 2018.

Breaking new ground: Court of Appeal rules that ‘first use’ principle is not applicable to disputes between related entities

By Teo Bong Kwang and Eugene Ee

The Malaysian Court of Appeal has recently decided that the courts are not bound by “hard and fast” legal principles when it comes to deciding on the proprietorship of a trademark among related entities.


In Pathmanathan v Portcullis (Singapore) Pte Ltd (Civil Appeal No W-02(IPCV)(W)-1798-09/2016), which concerned a dispute between different entities that were previously part of the Portcullis group of companies, the Court of Appeal was faced with the thorny issue of the proprietorship of a trade mark used within the group.

The corporate structure of the Portcullis group is rather elaborate:

  • the Portcullis companies in Malaysia – the third to twelfth appellants/defendants in this appeal were owned by Portcullis Holdings (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (‘PH’), the second appellant/defendant; and
  • the respondent, Portcullis (Singapore) Pte Ltd, and PH were both owned by Portcullis Holdings International Limited (‘PHIL’), which in turn was wholly owned by First Finance Holdings Ltd.

On 2 April 1998 a memorandum of agreement was signed by the first appellant/defendant, George Pathmanathan, and PHIL, whereby George was given 25% of the shares in PH. Sometime in 2006, George filed a minority oppression petition against PHIL, among others. The High Court ruled in George’s favour and ordered PHIL to transfer 75% of its shares remaining in PH to George. As a result, PH and the Portcullis Malaysian entities became wholly owned by George.

Subsequently, George filed two applications to register the PORTCULLIS marks in Malaysia. However, he was outdone by the respondent, Portcullis (Singapore), which managed to register twelve PORTCULLIS word and device or pictorial marks in various classes in Malaysia. Armed with the registrations, the respondent proceeded to sue the appellants for passing off, trade mark infringement and copyright infringement. The respondent contended that, when PH ceased to be part of the Portcullis group, its right to use the PORTCULLIS marks and logo also ceased.

In response, the appellants argued that the acquisition of PH by George was together with the goodwill and the other IP rights of the respective companies by virtue of the memorandum of agreement. Accordingly, the appellants led a counterclaim to expunge the twelve registered trade marks registered in the name of the Singaporean entity from the register.

In an extensive decision, the High Court ruled in favour of the Singaporean entity, based predominantly on the factual finding that it was the first user of the PORTCULLIS marks and logo in Malaysia.

Court of Appeal decision

At the appellate level, the Court of Appeal summarised the issue at hand in the following manner:

In the context of a corporate group, how is the issue of ownership of trade marks, corporate names and goodwill determined, including whether the principle of ‘first user’ is applicable when determining such ownership within a corporate group?

In answering this question, the court referred to the English Court of Appeal’s decision in Scandecor Development AB v Scandecor Marketing AB ((1998) EWCA Civ 1282). It held that, while the ‘first user’ principle is useful when determining any issue relating to the use of trade marks between unrelated competitors, such approach would not apply to cases involving related entities. If the court were to adopt the conventional approach, then the Singaporean entity would obviously prevail as it was the first user of the PORTCULLIS marks.

Instead, the court examined the facts of the dispute and highlighted one of the clauses in the memorandum of agreement, which provided that the goodwill and other IP rights shall vest in the respective Malaysian companies. Given that the ownership of PH was transferred to George, the goodwill in the PORTCULLIS marks and logo remained with the Malaysian entities. The High court’s decision was therefore overturned.


Interestingly, the Court of Appeal chose to deviate from a long line of cases – including the apex court’s decision in Mesuma Sports Sdn Bhd v Majlis Sukan Negara Malaysia ([2015] 6 MLJ 465), which held that proprietorship of a trade mark is established by first use of the mark within the country. In arriving at its conclusion that the Malaysian entities retained goodwill in the PORTCULLIS mark, the Court of Appeal placed great emphasis on a contractual provision in the memorandum of agreement. This raises the important question of whether contractual provisions on the alleged ownership of a trade mark should take precedence over the exclusive rights of a registered trade mark owner.

(This article first appeared on WTR Daily, part of World Trademark Review on 26 November 2018. For further information, please go to )





Photo by Lam Been Koon






  1. 我们希望原道堂能有更多先知型的领袖,牧者。他们有异象 (vision),有使命感。为教会搭脉,找出问题,也为教会的发展,前路提出前瞻的看法。
  2. 我们为牧者们能细心研究原道堂未来5年计划的的草案,提出宝贵的意见祷告。因为牧者需要认同,并推动之。
  3. 为每周负责讲道的牧者,一些长老执事祷告,求神让他们正确讲解神的话语。能将神活泼的话语,注入信徒的心中,影响他们的生命。与此相关的,我们求神赐给我们更多有恩赐的讲道人,能有效,正确,深入浅出的解释圣经经文。他们有清楚的信息,有效,effective 的传讲方式(这个我们当中许多牧者必须持续提升),以及信徒能将教导实践出来,换言之,能贴近信徒的生命。


我们教会相当缺乏“传道的人”,英文称为Evangelist。保罗把“传道者”放在第三位。肯定传道的人是非常重要。如果没有传道,基督教不会流传到今天。往往我们将许多时间花在事工策划,花在举办一些活动,甚至处理人事上,但是往往花在实实在在传福音的时间很少。我们甚少带人归主 (至少我承认这是我的亏欠),我们甚至没有人可以带领来教会的布道会。


  1. 求主帮助我们这些做领袖的,立定志向,一个月至少要花一定的时间来传福音。求神赐下传福音的志向与恩赐给自己。学习保罗所说,得时不得时,总要传福音。
  2. 求主兴起原道堂的Billy Graham,原道堂的唐崇荣。
  3. 求神让我们善用科技术,明了现代人的需求,有效的传完整的福音。


我把这两个职分合在一起。因为两者,pastor and teachers 基本的工作是牧养(shepherding, pastoring)的人。据我的观察(相信错误难免)现近许多牧者不太喜欢“牧养”,他们不喜欢与人打交道,探访更是缺乏。他们比较喜欢讲讲道,教教书。但是我个人认为必须重思或重拾牧养的职分。

我个人认为牧师的工作,有一个重要层面,是许多人无法做的,就是“牧灵” (spiritual care)。用上帝的话语来培养一个人的灵命。


  1. 求神让牧者真正有“牧灵”的恩赐,负担。学习适时地与会友同行,陪有需要的会友走一段路,用神的话语牧养他们。
  2. 让我们的牧者对神有大的信心,也有忠心。与神关系良好。清楚自己的使命与不忘初心,忠心,尽责的执行牧养的职分。有异象,智慧,与能力来带领教会。
  3. 求神赐给我们的牧者有健康的身体,灵命。与配偶有美好的关系,得到他/她的支持.
  4. 让我们的牧者对《圣经》的认识正确,理解体会与日俱增。
  5. 让我们的牧者持续学习,在行政,策划,牧养的实践,其他常识,学养上持续提升自己。
  6. 求神让牧者每周的讲道是实在,谨慎地传讲神的话语;带有能力,有内涵,及能更新人心的。求圣灵帮助我们的牧者,加添他们智慧能力,以便他们有信心来传讲神的话语。


《以弗所书》第4章第12节说,神设立四个职分,“是要装备圣徒,做事奉的工作,建立基督的身体。”(和合本修订版)以至于我们不会轻易被异教邪说所影响。换言之我们是成熟,稳定的基督徒。我们也能用爱心传讲真理,英文圣经比较翻译的较好:speaking the truth in love 。我个人认为从上下文来看,Truth应当是指“基督教真理”,而不只是“诚实话”。


  1. 求神保守我们教会的教导事工 (teaching ministry),包括成青主日学,主日讲道,儿童主日学,教育组的计划,讲座,团契,各个小组中的教导能正确,有深度,能有效的传承信仰。
  2. 求神兴起更多能够教导人的人。
  3. 求神让原道堂的每个信徒是个认真学习真道的人。


和合本修订版之《以弗所书》第4章第15节说,我们要用爱心“说诚实话”(照上面的讨论,可以理解为“讲论真理“),“各方面向着基督长进”。这句很好:因为我们各方面的长进,是朝向基督。基督是我们的榜样,我们向他学习,以他马首是瞻。最终是连结与他这位“元首” (或“头“ – head)。英文NRSV版《圣经》是说we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ。这个into有百川汇海的意味,最终我们都归于基督这个“大海”,融合了。


我们都知道,保罗用“身体“(body)这个意象(imagery )来代表教会。用身体这个意象,主要是要带出一个非常重要得信息:身体有不同的器官 (organs),各个器官必须是连结得甚为结实,牢靠,不会断落的。和合本修订版用了一个相当好的形容词:“接连得紧凑”。英文NRSV版《圣经》则 说每个器官是借着筋(ligament)连结,缝纫起来的(knit together by every ligament )。大家都吃过猪肉,牛肉,也吃过牛筋,知道牛筋是非常坚韧的。骨容易折断,但筋却不容易扯断。

保罗也说每个器官要“各按各职,照着各体的功能彼此相助“,英文说:each part is working properly ,那么身体(教会)就会增长,而且保罗也指出一个至关重要的真理: 这种的生长是在爱中进行的。或者更准确的说是:不是教会数量增长而已,更重要的是爱心日渐生长。 英文NRSV版《圣经》的表达方式较为清楚:We must grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.


  1. 祈求原道堂属下所有的教会中的弟兄姐妹有彼此相爱的关系,彼此连结的结实牢靠,而不是松散的(loosely)。
  2. 每个会友,信徒发挥他们的功能,一起建立教会,建立爱心。
  3. 保罗提醒我们不是建立一个教会而已,而是建立一个有爱的群体。
  4. 最终保罗的教会观,是信徒能在教会中,经历爱,经历爱的建立,building up in love。信徒必须越来越有爱心。求神将这个爱的团体赐给我们。爱是圣灵的果子,愿圣灵帮助我们爱神爱人。

注:以上是本人于2018年12月8日 (星期六),在吉隆坡教会早堂的祷告会中之分享与代祷事项。美丽的插图是蓝炳焜长老的摄影作品。在此谢谢他让我自由使用。

亦舒谈写作 (二)


亦舒的这本《写作这回事》 有许多自传式的资料,可以窥探到她的生活小事,喜好,以及对一些事物的想法。比如说曾经三年时光,亦舒的稿子都是在图书馆里写的。又比如说她喜欢用什么笔来写稿,用什么稿纸。

倪小姐也不吝分享写作是否靠天分,写作有哪些压力,写小说需不需要大纲 ,如何取书名等。 我也急不及待想听听她认为写作者必备的是哪些条件,先入为主地认为她定会说写作必须靠天赋,必须阅读过上万的名著经典。没想到她说写作必须有纪律,“必须谢绝应酬,不要再听电话,回复电邮,不宜时常接受访问等”。这些问题我都没有面对,但是仍旧不能成为畅销作家。


我们都羡慕多产作家的文思如泉涌不断,而凡人如我辈,往往对着空白的稿纸,或电脑荧幕,久坐仍不能挤出一个字,差点愤而上吊。但倪小姐说文思中断问题主要是“时间分配问题” ,“不可分心,这不是人笨刀钝的问题”(页172)。多么像Peter Drucker教导人如何管理公司,管理时间,处理事务。她宣告:“写作的首要条件是坐下来,写。作者若俗务缠身,四出奔走,大约不会有可能生产比较完整的作品。”(页173)

倪小姐不认为写作必须呕心沥血,”要写到夜半伏在床上痛哭的”。相反的,要愉快的写。如果要伏在床上痛苦流泪的写,那就不如转行。 “认识的作家不少,从来没有听说倪匡或西西说他们写得哭出来写作同其他工作一样,不宜爱理不理,嘻皮笑脸地干,我们要敬业乐业。却也不必为之落泪,写,不停地写,切忌有名与利的包袱,爱怎样写就怎样写,爱写什么题材就拿它来发挥。” (页179)