(Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China)

(WIPO code: MO) (last revised December 2022)

by RPmacau Intellectual Property Services, Macao SAR, China - Mr. Luis REIGADAS, Lawyer and Industrial Property Agent

General Information


33.3 sq. km. (including the two islands and the reclaimed land between them).


671,900 inhabitants (published on the third quarter of 2022).


Macau (in Portuguese) or Macao (in English).

Official languages

Chinese (Cantonese) and Portuguese


Pataca (MOP).

General Remarks

On December 20, 1999, Macao, a Chinese territory under Portuguese administration was formally integrated into the People’s Republic of China as a Special Administrative Region, within the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”, under the name of Região Administrativa Especial de Macau (Macao Special Administrative Region). In accordance with Macao’s Basic Law, its capitalist system will remain in place for at least fifty years. The Basic Law also guarantees that Macao SAR will have a high degree of autonomy, and executive, legislative and independent judicial power as well as that of final adjudication.

Macao SAR is situated on the west bank of the Pearl River Delta and forms a triangle with Hong Kong and Guanghzhou in what is the fastest growing economic area in the region.

An independent tariff region, a founder member of the World Trade Organization and an associate member of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific, Macao has also signed trade and cooperation agreements with the European Union, therefore establishing itself as a strong member of the international business community.

As a separate customs territory and adopting free port policy Macao SAR will continue to develop economic and trade relationships with complete autonomy. Macao SAR has an autonomous industrial property rights legal system, which complies with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, ensuring that effective and adequate procedures are taken to enforce these rights.

On August 16, 1999, the Government of Macao enacted the Decree-Law No. 43/99/M whereby a new Statute was laid down under the heading “Regime do Direito de Autor” (Copyright System). This Statute came into force on October 1, 1999.

On December 13, 1999, the Government of Macao enacted the Decree-Law No. 97/99/M whereby a new Statute was laid down under the heading “Regime Jurídico da Propriedade Industrial” (Industrial Property Legal System), intended to replace and revoke all previous legislation on industrial property matters in force while Macao was under Portuguese administration. This Statute came into force on June 6, 2000, by an order of the Chief of the Macao Cabinet No. 87/2000.

From 1999 to date, the Government of Macao made progress in strengthening Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws, tightening controls over DVD and VCD manufacturing, and stepping up street-level IPR enforcement. Further reinforcing these positive trends was the strong performance of the new Customs Services that took responsibility for IPR enforcement in November 2001. As a result of these improvements in legislation and a stepped up enforcement effort, most optical disc manufacturers were either forcibly shut down or moved operations to other jurisdictions.

Macao is now leaning more towards becoming an important regional meeting and conference center as can be seen with the number of new venues that have been constructed over the last few years.

The protection of intellectual property is an important part of Macao SAR government’s strategy to attract overseas investors by providing a secure economic environment. Although in previous years Chinese investment had been considerable in a wide variety of sectors, since the handover more and more investment has been coming in from further afield.

On February 8, 2002, Macao formally ended the forty-year old monopoly held by STDM when it awarded two of three gambling concessions to companies from outside the SAR that had presented attractive tenders. Macao’s economy is centered on gambling and tourism related industries and this action is the centerpiece of the post-handover government’s policy to improve Macao’s international reputation.

Macao's economy had a rapid growth since the award of the three concessions. Until the end of 2019, when the outbreak of Covid-19, the tourism industry of the whole world, was brought to a halt. The impact to Macao was significant, as the gross gaming revenue was down 98% from pre-pandemic levels and fell to a record low in July 2022.

On June 26, 2022, the gaming licenses expired for Macao's six major casino operators: Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, MGM China, Sands China, SJM Resorts, and Wynn Macao. Collectively, these six operators manage each of Macao's 41 casinos. They were granted a short extension until December 31 to accommodate the bidding process.

Later, on November 26, 2022, the Chief Executive of Macao announced the result of the license bid and the current six operators were granted the licenses.

On the other hand, it has been apparent in the last few years that most of Macao’s manufacturing industry has moved across the border. While the IT sector has blossomed to further promote the economic development in Macao, it is important nowadays that the transfer of technology is treated favorably. Although industrial property rights are not generally considered the most important factor for potential investors, it is obvious that overseas owners of technological knowledge will be far more likely to engage in the transfer of technology if there is an appropriate system in place that protects their exclusive rights of ownership to the technology.

In line with China's Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Development Policy and in order to develop non-gaming business revenues, further steps are being taken by the Macao government, for example the setting up of the Cultural Development Fund to provide financial support and encouragement of cultural industry projects.

At the same time, taking advantage of its historical and cultural background, Macao has transformed itself into the platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. With the great support of the Central Government of China, the Portuguese-speaking countries and the Government of the Macao SAR, five Ministerial Conferences of Forum Macao were held in the Macao SAR, with notable success.

Furthermore, in order to carry out its role, the Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macao and its Training Centre, the headquarter of the China-Portuguese-speaking Countries Co-operation and Development Fund, the Business Federation of China and Portuguese-speaking Countries and the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Exchange of Young People of China and Portuguese-speaking Countries etc. were established in Macao.

Special Remarks

Current Legal Instruments:

Intellectual Property law in Macao is mainly governed by the following legislation:
– Author's Rights and Neighboring Rights Act, enacted by Decree-Law 43/99/M of August 16, 1999, which numerous changes were made and was republished by Law No. 5/2012 of April 10, 2012.
– Decree-Law 51/99/M of September 27, 1999, on regulation of the manufacture and trade of optical discs, which certain changes were made by Law No. 11/2001 of August 6, 2001.
– Industrial Property Act, enacted by Decree-Law 97/99/M of December 13, 1999, governing patents, utility models, topographies of semiconductors products, trademarks, designs and models, appellations of origin and geographical indications, names and signs of establishments, and industrial awards and prizes, which certain changes were made by Law No. 11/2001 of August 6, 2001.
– Chief Executive Order 54/2000 of April 17, 2000, on the installation of software in the public services.
– Law No. 7/2003 of June 23, 2003, which establishes the general principles of foreign trade and the general principles of the system of importing, exporting and passing through the Macao Special Administrative Region of goods and other goods or products.
– Chief Executive Order 57/2005 of March 14, 2005, establishing the fees in connection with industrial property rights applications.
– Chief Executive Order No. 174/2020 of August 31, 2020 (certain changes made by Chief Executive Order No. 69/2021), enabling the extension of Chinese patent or patent applications to Macao and designating the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) as the designated entity to conduct the substantive examination of the patent applications filed in Macao. Whenever an applicant for a patent registration in Macao SAR requests that the report of the patent's examination be carried out by the mentioned entity, he must submit to the Macao Intellectual Property Office all the necessary documents written in the Chinese language or translated into the Chinese language.
– Chief Executive Order 68/2021 of May 4, 2021, on the procedure for the registration of licensing and collecting societies.

Note: the above-mentioned legislation deals with substantive issues, procedural aspects are contained in other, more general Statutes. For example, civil actions are governed by the Code of Civil Procedure, enacted by Decree-Law 55/99/M, of October 8, 1999, and criminal actions by the Code of Criminal Procedure, enacted by Decree-Law 48/96/M, of September 2, 1996.

International Treaties:

After December 20, 1999, when it was established its status as a Special Administrative Region, Macao has continued to be a member of the following Conventions:

– Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
– Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (9th Edition).
– Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
– The Universal Copyright Convention (1952), as revised.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement.
– The Hague Convention (Apostille).

Until further notice, the PCT, the Madrid Agreement and Protocol on International Registrations shall not be applicable to Macao. The extension of European Patents is enacted but not yet in force.