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Singapore: MoU signed with India

October 4 2016 marked a new milestone for the IP arena in Singapore and India, as Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) of India. The signing was one of the highlights of the Singapore leader's October visit to New Delhi. This agreement aims to promote creativity, innovation and technological growth in both countries, while expanding bilateral collaboration activities in IP rights, including patents, trade marks and industrial designs.

A Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) will be set up to further the objectives of the MoU. Such objectives include facilitating the exchange of best practices, experiences and knowledge in intellectual property, and organising exchange programmes for IP experts of both countries. The MoU also has objectives to promote events to share and disseminate best practices, experiences and knowledge with members of the IP community, such as academic institutions, enterprises and research and development organisations. In addition, under the MoU, Singapore and India will enhance cooperation in the implementation of modernisation projects for the industrial property arena and foster partnerships to train IP and business communities of both countries.

The MoU will see Singapore and India cooperating to further improve their achievements in innovation and technological advancement. In the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2016 Report (which ranks the world economies' innovation capabilities and achievements) announced on August 15 2016, Singapore climbed to earn the top rank in Asia and was placed sixth globally out of 128 nations. India achieved the fastest growth in patents, boasting 6,153 granted applications in 2014 from 3,377 in 2013. India is also ranked ninth and 14th worldwide in 2014 for trade mark and patent applications respectively.

Internally, Singapore has also been active in efforts to enhance its patent system. Last year, IPOS announced its intention to close the foreign route, which allows patent applicants to rely on the allowance or grant of a corresponding patent application or the International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP) in lieu of local substantive search and examination. A recent update by IPOS confirmed that the closure will take effect from January 1 2020 so as to allow sufficient time for patent applicants to adjust to the change. This change seeks to strengthen the Singapore patent system by ensuring that all Singapore granted patents fully meet Singapore's patentability requirements, thereby enhancing the quality of Singapore granted patents.

In addition, IPOS announced on June 30 2016 stricter guidelines for the assessment of post-grant patent amendments in Singapore. Specifically, post-grant amendments may not now be allowed if the patentee failed to make full disclosure of all relevant matters in relation to the proposed amendments, there was an unreasonable delay on the part of the patentee in seeking the amendments, or the patentee obtained an unfair advantage by delaying the amendments which the patentee knew to be needed.

These assessment criteria are in addition to the requirements under Section 84(3) of the Singapore Patents Act, which stipulates that post-grant amendments to a patent specification are not permitted if the amendments introduce additional matter or extend the scope of protection of the patent. Furthermore, the application for post-grant amendment should set out fully the reason(s) for the amendments, including the circumstances leading to the amendments and any evidence in support thereof.

With continued global, regional and local efforts to enhance the IP landscape of Singapore, the republic remains steadfastly focused on further growth in innovation, creativity and technology.


Daniel Collopy

Alan Ho

Spruson & Ferguson (Asia) Pte Ltd152 Beach Road#37-05/06 Gateway EastSingapore 189721Tel: +65 6333 7200Fax: +65 6333

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