Changes to Singapore’s patent regime

Proposed Changes to Singapore’s Patents Regime
Through several consultations, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has shared with IP practitioners that it intends to introduce changes to Singapore’s patents regime. The following is an overview of some of these proposed changes.

Closing the Foreign Route for Examination of Patent Applications
Currently, applicants are able to rely on the final search and examination results issued by selected foreign IP offices or international authorities under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and to request for supplementary examination with IPOS (“the foreign route”). When using the foreign route, an applicant need not have his application go through a substantive search and examination process with IPOS in order to obtain a patent grant in Singapore.

In recent years, IPOS has consciously moved towards strengthening Singapore’s patent regime and enhancing the quality of Singapore-granted patents, for example, by proposing amendments to the Patents Act changing Singapore’s patent regime from a self-assessment to a positive grant patent system with effect from 14 February 2014.

In line with the above, IPOS intends to close the foreign route to ensure that all Singapore patent applications undergo a substantive examination and meet Singapore’s patentability requirements before they are granted. Furthermore, this would prevent unmeritorious patents from entering Singapore’s patent system via the foreign route.
IPOS intends to close the foreign route no earlier than 1 January 2017 (“the closure date”).

With effect from the closure date, the foreign route will only be available for:
a) patent applications with a date of filing before the closure date;
b) divisional patent applications with a lodgement date before the closure date; and
c) PCT applications with an international filing date before the closure date.

After the closure, the following routes would still remain available to applicants seeking a Singapore-granted patent:
a) the “local route”, where the applicant requests for search and examination with IPOS; and
b) the “mixed route”, where the applicant requests for examination with IPOS, relying on the final search results of a corresponding, corresponding international, related national phase or PCT application.

Introduction of Supplementary Examination Fee
With effect from 1 January 2017, a new S$400/- fee will be introduced for supplementary examination requests. This is regardless of the closure date (which will be confirmed later), and will be increased annually over a few years thereafter.

Conclusion
The proposed changes will ensure that IPOS continues to strengthen the quality of patents filed in Singapore, and to enhance Singapore’s patent regime. IPOS will update the public again once the closure date is confirmed.