Malta’s vision for the future is to become a trusted platform for international IP transactions offering support across the entire IP value chain, including protecting, managing and commercialising ideas and innovations. The legal system protects the full range of IP rights, and the country is a signatory to all major agreements in this field, ensuring the enforceability of IP rights in Malta as well as in other countries. IP rights can be filed in, or through, Malta, and a number of international corporations have discovered the benefits of using Malta to set up dedicated companies that can hold and manage their IP rights worldwide. The industry is now looking to Malta’s emerging fintech sector. Fintech firms are naturally rich in intellectual property and need to move quickly to secure their IP rights given the fast-moving nature of this sector.
IP Holding Company
An IP holding company may be incorporated as a normal limited liability company registered under the Companies Act, which can hold, license and market any type of intellectual asset, including trademarks, software copyright, brand-names, patents, and designs. Other assets, such as trade secrets, know-how and domain names can also be owned by a Malta company in order to enjoy the same benefits. The company can enter into licence and franchise agreements with other persons wishing to exploit these rights and may also acquire IP rights from third parties – for instance, in the context of a merger or acquisition, whereby the IP rights are acquired separately as part of the acquisition of the business. This method of structuring means that the IP-holding company can benefit from Malta’s competitive tax regime and will have access to the country’s wide network of double taxation treaties. In January 2019, Malta also introduced a new patent box regime in line with the EU Code of Conduct on Business Taxation and the OECD BEPS standard, which allows entities to claim a tax deduction on income derived from certain types of intellectual property.
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Specialist service providers and Malta’s legal firms offer IP owners assistance in developing IP management strategies, providing guidance through all aspects of IP protection, exploitation, the grant of transfers, licences and acquisitions, as well as the enforcement of IP rights. They can conclude comprehensive portfolio reviews, which flag issues such as business critical intellectual assets that should be protected, conduct searches in databases and registers, manage the registration of IP rights in Malta, as well as in other countries, and liaise with the relevant authorities for clients seeking to protect their creations and ideas. Malta also provides a strong and conducive business environment for companies to manage and trade their IP. In addition, the island boasts lower operational costs than many of its EU peers, while laws and legislation can easily be accessed due to the fact that English is an official language.
Home of Innovation
Currently, an effort is underway to introduce amendments to the IP landscape, which do not solely focus on tax-related incentives for companies to bring their IP to Malta. The vision is for Malta to become a place where entrepreneurs and innovators can develop their ideas – in a safe, secure and profitable way. The island’s recent success in attracting fintech firms and companies from the blockchain sphere bodes well for country’s future as innovation hub, and it might prove to be a vital source of new IP business for Malta’s international finance centre.