Businesses to benefit as local and international cooperative efforts galvanise Singapore’s IP capabilities
From 1 September 2015, local and global businesses and inventors may fast track their applications for patent protection in multiple markets via Singapore, as the nation begins operations as ASEAN’s first International Patent Search and Examination Authority under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the treaty enables innovators and businesses to seek patent protection in 148 countries through a single international patent application. Singapore is the fifth in Asia (after China, India, Japan and Korea) and joins a select group of 19 IP offices worldwide that have been appointed as International Authorities for the PCT.
Patent applicants to Vietnam, Mexico, Brunei, Japan and Laos will be the first to gain access to Singapore’s new service offerings as an International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) in the coming months. These arrangements were set out under bilateral agreements signed this week at Asia’s premier intellectual property event, IP Week @ SG 2015.
Singapore is positioned to be a choice PCT application destination due to its responsiveness, with a first office action1 turnaround time of around 60 days for most cases. This compares with two to three years of waiting time for similar responses from other IP offices. Patent applicants could also enjoy rebates of up to 75% when making a PCT application through IPOS. Singaporean businesses and inventors, in particular, will benefit from the ease and cost-effectiveness of filing locally to enter the PCT system. This arrangement is expected to immediately benefit some 1,000 PCT applications originating in Singapore yearly that were previously filed through other IP offices. These applications may now be filed through IPOS.
Mr Ng Kok Wan, Executive Director of IPOS-International, said, “Singapore has made steady progress since our appointment as an International Authority in patent search and examination last year. Working with IP offices across the world and WIPO, we are able to offer businesses and inventors quicker and more affordable access to the global patent system. This is yet another step towards building a creative and innovative Singapore with IP.”
IP Academy spearheads joint programmes for building IP knowledge and capacity
Other cooperative efforts furthered at IP Week @ SG 2015 included three Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) signed between IPOS’ training subsidiary, the IP Academy, and leading universities and IP organisations. The agreements aim to build Singapore’s IP infrastructure and capabilities to professionalise the IP workforce, which is estimated to have over 100,000 professionals in Singapore.
The International IP Commercialisation Council and Renmin University of China separately committed to cooperate with the Academy in capacity building and training programmes, executive education, knowledge-sharing and raising IP awareness. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be the focus of the Academy’s collaboration with The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), as the two organisations partner to provide IP management skills training and development activities for local companies to develop and augment their IP capability.
Professor Loh Han Tong, Vice-Provost, SIT said, “This MOU is a milestone arrangement for SIT. With Singapore aspiring to be a global IP Hub in Asia, SIT is pleased to play a critical role in building the IP capabilities of SMEs. In turn, these companies can work with SIT to provide students with industry projects. SIT’s Enterprise and Innovation Hub will be a one-stop centre for students to manage industry projects and collaborations. This is in line with our future plans to be a university of applied learning that integrates industry and community.”
Ms Chiam Lu-Lin, Executive Director of IP Academy said, “With these arrangements, IP Academy continues to broaden the reach of our training programmes locally and abroad. These tie-ups will see us leverage the strengths and best-practices of leading universities and IP organisations, to enrich the programmes and initiatives offered to the IP workforce.”
These collaborations to professionalise the IP ecosystem and create more high value-added jobs for Singaporeans will particularly benefit the technology and business services sectors, which account for more than 80% of full-time IP employment. It will also provide a boost to Singapore’s economy, given that industries which use IP extensively estimated to account for almost half of the country’s GDP.
IP Week @ SG 2015
In its fourth run, IP Week @ SG saw a high attendance of more than 2,000 participants across the various IP Week events. Global delegates from nearly 40 countries came from the business, legal, technical and academic sectors. Over 50 distinguished speakers provided thought leadership and fuelled discussions at the 5th Global Forum on Intellectual Property (GFIP). This year’s event also included an IP Fiesta, which featured exhibitions and talks for the public in conjunction with Singapore’s Golden Jubilee (SG50).
1A first office action refers to the first notification that a patent applicant receives from an IP office after submitting their application. First office actions vary on a case-by-case basis, and could range from a request for additional information to a preliminary assessment of the patentability of the submission, or even a full examination report.