IPOS will be the fifth Asia-based international searching authority (ISA) and the first in Southeast Asia. It is expected to be running by early next year.
The other Asian ISAs are in China, Japan, Korea and India. The JPO is the second most popular ISA in the PCT system with an estimated 20.7% of all international searches in 2013, while the Korean Intellectual Property Office is third with 14.8%. The EPO is the most popular office in the world for PCT international searches with 37.7% of all searches.
Singapore will be one of several new ISAs to go live in the last two years. Israel’s patent office started performing international searches in 2012, generating 360 international search reports in 2012 and an estimated 816 in 2013. The Indian (est 107 reports) and Egyptian (est 13 reports) patent offices also became active as ISAs last year.
Singapore has made several changes in the last few years in response to the globalising market. In 2012, it amended its laws to allow foreign qualified patent agents located in Singapore to draft patents for other jurisdictions without having to meet local registration requirements. At the same time, Singapore also became a positive grant patent regime and as part of that process developed its own in-house patent examination capacity.
This new agreement to become a PCT ISA appears to be another step in the process, specifically with an eye toward China. According to a press release issued by the IP Office of Singapore, about 25% of its examiners can conduct prior art searches in Chinese.