The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and eight other ASEAN IP offices announced at IP Week in Singapore late last month that under a new ASPEC Acceleration for Industry 4.0 Infrastructure and Manufacturing (ASPEC-AIM) initiative, the nine ASEAN IP offices will prioritise patent application prosecution in technologies such as Industry 4.0 manufacturing, FinTech, cybersecurity and robotics. ASPEC-AIM is a two-year pilot project launched on August 27 2019 which is intended to allow businesses and innovators filing for patent protection in the ASEAN region to enjoy a short turnaround time of six months from requesting examination to a first office action.
ASPEC (the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation programme) is a regional patent work-sharing programme among the nine participating ASEAN IP offices in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The programme, launched in June 2009, shares search and examination results between the participating offices to allow patent applicants in these participating countries to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently.
The nine participating ASEAN IP offices have agreed to broaden the scope of ASPEC to include Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) reports under a new initiative called PCT-ASPEC which will run for a pilot term of three years starting on August 27 2019. Patent applicants will now have the option to use their PCT reports from an ASEAN International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) to accelerate their patent applications in another ASEAN country.
ASPEC-AIM and PCT-ASPEC expand the current ASPEC patent prosecution cooperation in the ASEAN region and, with the focus on Industry 4.0, FinTech, cybersecurity, robotics and other nascent technologies, are expected to bring economic growth opportunities to the ASEAN region. For example, Industry 4.0 is expected to deliver between US$1.2 trillion to US$3.7 trillion in gains globally, and US$216 billion to US$627 billion in ASEAN, given its significant manufacturing composition.
The announcement of the expansion of ASPEC coincided with announcements validating IPOS' commitment to support innovators and the IP ecosystem. IPOS announced that under IPOS' Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), the Alibaba Group Holdings Limited (Alibaba Group) has been granted an artificial intelligence (AI) patent in just three months as compared to an average of two to four years. The expedited application-to-grant process under AI2 enables Alibaba Group and other innovators to protect their AI inventions quicker in Singapore to facilitate bringing their AI products more quickly into the global market. In addition to AI2, IPOS' FinTech Fast Track (FTFT) programme accelerates patent prosecution for FinTech inventions. The FTFT programme enabled Voyager Innovations, a technology company based in Southeast Asia to obtain a patent grant within seven months of filing.
IPOS in partnership with SkillsFuture Singapore also announced launch of a national level skills development framework for the intellectual property sector as part of Singapore's push to develop talent and create jobs in IP. Expansion of qualified IP professionals can further Singapore's support of innovation and a national and regional IP ecosystem. The framework provides comprehensive information on career options, skills needed for various job roles, and training programmes relevant to the IP sector to aid in the upskilling of new entrants to the IP sector as well as existing IP professionals.
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