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Singapore: The IP landscape in 2015

2015 was an eventful year for the IP regime in Singapore. Many IP milestone events occurred in 2015, especially in the patents sector. The accessibility, interoperability and quality of the IP landscape in Singapore can be seen in this summary of important 2015 events.

At the start of 2015, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and Cambodia's Ministry of Industry and Handicraft (MIH) signed a Memorandum of Understanding whereby patents and industrial designs can enjoy IP protection in Cambodia via filing in Singapore at IPOS. Then, businesses and inventors in Singapore and China obtained greater protection, exploitation and commercialisation of intellectual property through the establishment of an IPOS Representative Office in Guangzhou, China in April 2015 at a Trilateral Meeting in Guangzhou affirming the joint commitment between IPOS, the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) and the Guangdong Provincial People's Government to develop the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City (SSGKC) into a model zone for IP cooperation between China and Singapore.

On September 1 2015, Singapore reached an important milestone towards becoming an IP hub of Asia when IPOS began operations as ASEAN's first International Patent Search and Examination Authority under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), joining a select group of 19 IP offices worldwide (and becoming the fifth in Asia after China, India, Japan and Korea) that have been appointed as international authorities for the PCT. This means that local and global businesses and inventors are able to fast track their applications for patent protection in multiple markets via Singapore. Patent applicants are able to experience faster turnaround times for a first office action and rebates of up to 75% when filing a PCT application through IPOS. In October 2015, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Directorate General of Intellectual Property (DGIP) of Indonesia and Thailand appointed IPOS as a competent International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) for patent applications entering their respective markets under the PCT. Innovators in Singapore and Singapore-based technology companies now have cost-efficient access to a growing list of markets when they utilise the patent search and examination services provided by IPOS-International. This is in addition to the patent prosecution highways offered by Singapore that expedite patent applications in over 30 countries, including key economies such as Europe, China, Japan, Korea and ASEAN.

In a more recent update, Tang Heng Shim Daren was appointed as chief executive (CE) of IPOS on November 16 2015. He succeeds Tan Yih San, who has served as chief executive since June 2011. In his previous position at IPOS, Mr. Tang oversaw the Registries Cluster, the development of Singapore’s IP regulatory regime and was responsible for all international IP negotiations, including negotiations at WIPO and in free trade agreements.

Singapore is shaping up to become an IP hub in Asia and internationally with the flurry of events in the year 2015. More of such bilateral agreements and cooperation between IPOS and other countries are expected in the year 2016 as Singapore establishes itself as a centre for innovation and creativity in the IP industry in Asia and throughout the world.

Daniel CollopyRico Teo

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

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