This is one of the commonly asked questions by trademark owners about trademark. The answer is yes, a trademark is an intangible asset which can be transferred from one to another. The process is generally known as, assignment of trademark.
Section 64(1) of the Malaysian Trademarks Act 2019 ("Trademarks Act") provides that, a registered trademark shall be transmissible by assignment or assignment in the same way as other personal or movable property, and shall be so transmissible either in connection with the goodwill of a business or independently"
"Wait, does it mean only registered trademark can be assigned? What happened to unregistered trademark?"
Fret not, unregistered trademark can be assigned too! Section 64(6) of the Trademarks Act provides that, nothing in this Act shall be construed as affecting the assignment or other transmission of an unregistered trademark as part of the goodwill of a business. (Phew!)
How to assign a trademark ownership?
To kickstart the process, the original owner of the trademark ("Assignor") and the new owner of the trademark ("Assignee") should sign a deed of assignment, a legal instrument that transfer the trademark from the Assignor to the Assignee. One deed of assignment may include multiple trademarks. The deed of assignment contains the terms and condition to transfer the trademark. Generally, it should include the identity of parties, the details of trademark to be transferred, effective date of transfer, and the consideration, ie. the transfer price. The consideration may be a nominal sum.
Once the parties have signed the Deed of Assignment, the document should be filed with the Government Trademark Office, with the prescribed official form (Form TMH-1) and fees.
Upon filing the documents, the Malaysian Trademark Office will usually take a few months to record the assignment into the database of the registry.
Although it seems like may take some time, but the effective date of transfer of ownership is based on the date of deed of assignment, not the date of recordal by the Trademark Office. So the rights of the parties are not affected, despite the heavy workload in the Trademark Office.
Who should be responsible to file the assignment?
There are no hard and fast rules as to whether the deed of assignment and/or application for recordal of assignment should be done by the assignor or assignee. The parties may decide on a case-to-case basis.
International Assignment of Trademarks
Since registration and protection of trademark is territorial based, the recordal of trademark assignment will also be done country by country.
In some countries, a universal deed of assignment is acceptable. Hence the same document may be used to apply for recordal of trademark assignment in a few countries and save some legal fees in drafting a separate deed of assignment in each country.
However, in some countries, there are specific requirements on format or languages of the Deed of Assignment.
So, it is always safe not to assume and you should seek consultation from your trademark agent.
When is the best timing to assign trademark ownership?
There are many reasons that prompt the need of assignment of trademark. For example, sale of trademark, corporate restructure, moving a business from sole proprietorship to private limited company (Sdn. Bhd.) or vice versa & etc.
Once you have decided any of the above moves, the assignment of trademark should be done immediately without any delay.
There are many instances that the assignment of trademark has been delayed due to procrastination or overlook. This may lead to serious and unwanted consequences.
For instance, after a few years, upon realizing the need of doing the deed of assignment, if the assignor has ceased to operate or passed away (for individual assignor), this may complicate the process of recordal of assignment due to the difficulty in locating the assignor to sign the documents.
Another example is, there may be a problem when the assignee needs to take legal action against trademark infringer, as the legal ownership of the assignee on the trademark is questionable.
Looking for assigning the ownership of your trademark? Don't wait! Contact us today!
IP Legal Executive
Bachelor of Laws
Registered Trademark, Patent and Design Agent
LL.B (HONS), CLP Advocate & Solicitor (Non-Practising)
Disclaimer: The above information is merely for general sharing and does not constitute any legal advice. Readers are advised to seek individual advice from the professionals.
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