(WIPO code: MT) (last revised March 2019)

by BEZZINA & MIFSUD Patentbureau, Sliema - Mr. J. Mifsud

General Information

Area

316 sq. km.

Population

475,700.

Capital

Valletta.

Languages

Maltese and English.

Currency

Euro (EUR).

General Remarks

Malta, officially the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country comprising an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km south of Italy, 284 km east of Tunisia, and 333 km north of Libya. The country covers just over 316 sq. km, with a population of just under 450,000 (despite an extensive emigration programme since the Second World War) making it one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries.  The largest island of the group is Malta, from which the archipelago takes its name. Malta is well served with harbors, chief of which is the Valletta Grand Harbour. The capital is Valletta, which at 0.8 sq. km, is the smallest national capital in the European Union. Malta has no mountains or rivers. A series of low hills with terraced fields on the slopes characterize the Island. The coastline of Malta is well indented, thus providing numerous harbors, bays, creeks, sandy beaches and rocky coves. The length of the shoreline round Malta is 136 km, and 43 km round Gozo.

The second largest island, Gozo is topographically quite different from Malta. Quaintly attractive for its less industrialized way of life, Gozo can be reached from Malta by ferry from Cirkewwa.

Comino, Cominotto, Filfla and St Paul’s Islet are the other major features of the archipelago. Of these, only Comino, straddled between Malta and Gozo, sustains a very tiny population. Turned into a popular resort because of a couple of very fine beaches, Comino can be reached from Cirkewwa, either by boat or by excursion ferries during the summer months.

Malta’s location has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, and a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British, have ruled the islands.

Malta was awarded the George Cross by King George VI in 1942, for the country’s bravery in the Second World War. The George Cross continues to appear on Malta’s national flag. Under the Malta Independence Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1964, Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom as an independent sovereign Commonwealth realm, officially known from 1964 to 1974 as the State of Malta, with Elizabeth II as its Head of State. The country became a republic in 1974, and although no longer a Commonwealth realm, remains a current member state of the Commonwealth of Nations. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004; in 2008 it became part of the Eurozone.

Malta has a long Christian legacy and its Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Malta is claimed to be an Apostolic See because, according to the Acts of the Apostles, Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked on Malta. Catholicism is the official religion in Malta.

Malta is a popular tourist destination with its warm climate, numerous recreational areas, and architectural and historical monuments, including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, Valletta, and seven Megalithic Temples, which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world. There are really only two seasons in Malta: the dry summer season, and the mild winter season (average winter temperature is 12 degrees Celsius).

Legislation: other intellectual property rights are governed by the following legislation: the Copyright Act (Cap 415) of April 2000, as amended, with respect to Layout Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits (covered in Part VIII) and Computer Software.