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MALAYSIA
Intellectual Property
July 17, 2007

New court set up to fight pirates
Malaysia, scrambling to banish its image as a haven for film and software pirates, on July 17 launched its first court exclusively devoted to dealing with intellectual property cases, Reuters reported.

The country is high on a US piracy watchlist, and has sharply stepped up its battle against copyright pirates since it began negotiating a free-trade pact with the United States last year.

Besides tactics such as frequent raids, cargo scanning machines at ports and sniffer dogs to detect pirated disks, Malaysia hopes the new court will eliminate delays in cases because lawyers and judges were unfamiliar with copyright issues.

“Intellectual property cases can be highly complex and for these you need legal professionals well versed in handling complex technical matters," Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shafie Apdal told the inaugural function.

The court was the first in a planned network of 15 sessions courts, six high courts and a court of appeal that will eventually deal with all the intellectual property cases in the country, Shafie told reporters later.

Of 157 intellectual property cases registered with the Kuala Lumpur sessions court so far this year, 84 remain to be resolved, along with 29 dating from 2006 and 140 from 2005, senior Malaysian judge Richard Malanjum told reporters.

"With the setting up of the new IP courts now, I am sure there will be more to come," said Malanjum, speaking in the freshly-painted, wood-panelled new court in the Malaysian capital.

"There will be new appointments of additional judges. We have already earmarked quite a number of them, so they will be here."

Recording industry groups, which say they have been urging the government to establish such a court for several years, welcomed the move.

"This is what we've been looking for for years," said Nor Hayati Yahaya, country manager of the Motion Picture Association that groups major global film companies.

"It will make prosecutions more efficient, cases will be dealt with more speedily, and we hope the judges will hand out deterrent sentences -- whether large fines or putting people behind bars for a long, long time." Reuters

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