18.1 Intellectual Property and Sustainability in the Maltese Islands

18.1.1 A Brief Overview of Existing Legislation

In Malta, intellectual property (hereinafter referred to as 'IP') is regulated by various laws both at EU level—either through transposition or else by virtue of their direct applicability—as well as locally. For the purposes of responding to the question- naire, we have focussed on the local legislative framework and local landscape (save where we have felt it necessary to expand our response to include the EU). The 'main' laws regulating IP in Malta are the Copyright Act (Chapter 415 of the Laws of Malta), the Trademarks Act (Chapter 416 of the Laws of Malta), the Patents and Designs Act (Chapter 417 of the Laws of Malta), the Intellectual Property Rights (cross-border measures) Act (Chapter 414 of the Laws of Malta), the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (Regulation) Act (Chapter 488 of the Laws of Malta), the Trade Secrets Act (Chapter 589 of the Laws of Malta) and the Commercial Code (Chapter 13 of the Laws of Malta). Additionally, Malta is also a party to various international treaties, conventions and agreements including the World Trade Organisation's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the Berne Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the European Patent Convention and the Unified Patent Court and Regulation.

Although there is clearly an abundance of legislation which serves to regulate IP and related rights in Malta, the Maltese legislator has yet to enact any regulations, acts, bills, legal notices, by-laws or other legal instruments which specifically regulate the emerging relationship between IP and sustainability. While Malta does have its own Sustainable Development Act (Chapter 521 of the Laws of Malta), the Act makes no reference to IP. Nonetheless, over recent years there have been schemes and incentives which have been established, as well as broad guidance documents which have been published, at a local level, which indicate that Malta is growing increasingly conscious of the vital role that IP can play when it comes to promoting and increasing sustainable solutions for the future.

18.1.2 Existing Local Initiatives, Programmes and Strategies: A General Perspective

One initiative which has been taken at local level is the annual 'Malta Intellectual Property Awards', which was first launched in 2009. The scope of the awards, which are organised by the Commerce Department of the Maltese Ministry for the Econ- omy, Investment and Small Business, is to recognise and encourage the development of innovative ideas and products which have a degree of potential that is both sustainable and unique. Through the initiative, the Maltese Ministry has sought to promote the creation of IP in Malta, including patents, trademarks and designs which can benefit society in innovative and sustainable ways.1 As of 2022, the amount of available funding for the awards is 60,000 euros and Maltese nationals, groups of Maltese individuals, as well as entities established in Malta may participate and are eligible for funding. Furthermore, the awards are divided into four wide-ranging categories, which are: Creative Innovation, Scientific Innovation, Technological Innovation and Emerging Innovation, and which allow for a broad range of innova- tive, sustainable ideas to be considered.2 Examples of novel IP which has managed to secure funding over the years through these awards are, inter alia, (i) the creation of an integrated offshore energy store (in 2017), (ii) the creation of a mechanism to teach sustainable development through gaming (also in 2017), (iii) the development of an idea for a multitrophic polyculture food production system for Malta (in 2020), and (iv) an evaporative cooling method for lithium-ion batteries (in 2021). The initiative shows that Malta has been, for a number of years, placing heightened focus on the protection and promotion of ideas and creations which can serve to enhance sustainability, and these efforts are clearly bearing fruit. Moreover, the initiative plays a crucial role in providing persons who might not have the financial ability or the necessary know-how to protect their IP with an avenue to develop and simultaneously protect their ideas.

The Maltese government, through its dedicated ministries and departments, has also on a number of occasions supported the development of innovative, sustainable projects in Malta through financial grants for research, testing, and the creation of infrastructure. One example is the Malta Council for Science and Technology's

'FUSION' programme, which is a Maltese funding programme that supports local research and innovation—particularly for ideas which aim to improve the quality of life, and provides the necessary support for researchers and technologists to turn their innovative ideas into market-ready realities. 3 In previous years, the funding has been granted for the development of a sustainable water treatment plan for local hotels which was developed by a Maltese engineer, and for a research project carried out by a group of Maltese researchers to develop efficient storage systems for energy generated on structures at sea. Although the scheme does not specifically target the protection of sustainable IP, it can certainly be said that most of the projects which fall to be considered under the programme have sustainable characteristics, and are also likely to be patentable due to their inventive aspects.

Notably, a consultation document published in 2016 by the Maltese Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change entitled 'Greening our EconomyAchieving a Sustainable Future',4 emphasises the need for local policy action to be taken to reduce the costs associated with acquiring IP rights, particularly for small and start-up firms. While the consultation document encourages 'a greener economy' and 'enhance[d] sustainability', it also explains that these aims are unlikely to be achieved if barriers to entry, particularly in relation to IP, are not removed. Furthermore, the consultation document also cites, as an area for consideration, the need to provide adequate training to persons working in emerging fields. Specifically, the protection of IP in the field of new energy technologies through the provision of part-time courses and internal company training to improve the competencies of the work force in IP institutions.

Clearly the Maltese government and local government authorities already recog- nise that IP plays a key role in enhancing sustainability, whether the sustainable component or aim of the IP in question relates to environmental, social, economic, technological or even to other forms of sustainable innovation. While the strategies, schemes, and initiatives which have been and which continue to be pursued at a local level might not appear to be on a grand scale in comparison with other larger and wealthier jurisdictions, in our view Malta's efforts are commensurate with its size, amount of resources, and available funds which can be allocated towards this scope.

To view the full article, click here.

Originally published by LIDC.


1. Malta Intellectual Property Awards, 2022. In: Commerce.gov.mt. https://commerce.gov.mt/en/Awards/Pages/Malta-Innovation-Awards.aspx. Accessed 13 May 2022.

2. Ibid.

3. FUSION - MCST. In: MCST. https://mcst.gov.mt/ri-programmes/fusion/. Accessed 7 November 2022.

4. MSDEC, Greening our economy – achieving a sustainable future 2022. Available at https://meae.gov.mt/en/public_consultations/msdec/documents/green%20economy/consultation%20document%20-%20green%20economy.pdf. Accessed 7 November 2022.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.