Administrative Measures

Infringement: where the sale of counterfeit goods in the Maldives is detected, it is possible for an application to be made to the Ministry of Economic Development (“MED”) pursuant to the Consumer Protection Law No. 1/96 informing the MED that counterfeit goods are being sold and requesting the MED to take the action/measures provided for in the Consumer Protection Law.

The MED is empowered to impose the following measures:
(1) a fine between MVR 500 to MVR 100,000 for the first offence;
(2) a fine between MVR 5,000 to MVR 100,000 for the second offence;
(3) if the offender fails or neglects to comply with the MED’s instructions after the imposition of a fine as aforesaid, the offender may be fined again in the same manner, and the business of the offender may be forcibly closed for a period of less than six months, or the trading permit may be revoked for a period of less than six months.

It would appear that the MED has published a notice which stated that the sale of counterfeit goods is not contrary to the laws of the Maldives provided that they are properly identified as such.

Certain Government Ministries in the Republic of the Maldives have enacted rules and regulations that have the effect of protecting certain intellectual property rights:

(a) the Ministry of Economic Development registers trademarks, logos, and shipping marks after conducting appropriate searches to ensure that they are not already used elsewhere in the Maldives by other persons;

(b) the Ministry of Home Affairs registers logos and flags for clubs and associations.

Arguably, therefore, there is some form of limited intellectual property protection available and according to Maldivian sources, in the past, the Ministries have taken decisive steps to protect those persons that have registered interests with them. The areas of protection at various Ministries are also gradually expanding.

It should be noted that:

(1) the said Ministries have not established distinct centralized bodies that maintain the registered interests, thus there is no Copyright Office, Trademark Registry or Patent Registry as such;

(2) there is no public Register that can be consulted by any interested parties seeking to register an interest (e.g. a Register of Trademarks). Thus, any person desiring making an enquiry must make an individual and usually written application to the relevant Ministry;

(3) the scope of the registration schemes of the said Ministries is somewhat ambiguous and no written guidelines have been issued as to what types of intellectual property will in fact be registered;

(4) other than the remedies available in terms of the Consumer Protection Law, there are no criminal law penalties – infringement of intellectual property registration gives rise only to civil remedies, there are no criminal penalties;

(5) the resources which the said Ministries can devote to enforcement are extremely limited.