New Malaysia courts to clear IP backlog

The Malaysian government is setting up 21 dedicated IP courts to manage a backlog of more than 1,500 IP cases.

The government said the new courts should start hearing cases next month. No further details have been announced and it is not yet known if foreign judges will be brought in to remedy the situation or if highly specialised IP lawyers will be permitted to preside over the cases.

“IP in Malaysia is quite specialised and the judges are just not knowledgeable enough to handle the cases,” a partner at a leading Malaysian IP firm told The Lawyer.

Last week the Malaysian cabinet approved proposals made by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to establish and introduce 15 sessions courts to hear IP cases and six high courts in the six states with the highest numbers of IP infringement cases.

The unusually large backlog of IP cases, in particular criminal IP cases, is a result of what local lawyers call a ‘lack of expertise’.

Statistics provided by the Malaysian court registrar reveal that, in June 2006, more than 500 IP-related cases were waiting to be dealt with in the magistrates court, with more than 1,000 cases in the Sessions Court and another 67 in the High Court as of last December.

Malaysia is still on an international watch list for its high number of IP cases.