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Singapore’s new patent system ready to go

Singapore’s revamp of its patent system is set to take effect on February 14. Hong Kong, its closest competitor, is looking to follow suit

In July 2012, the Parliament amended the city-state’s patent laws to change the system to a positive grant regime.

Singapore currently grants patents under a self-assessment system which allows a patent to be granted even if an examination found that the invention would not be patentable for reasons such as lack of obviousness or lack of an inventive step.

There was concern that the self-assessment system encouraged the filing of low quality patents. As Kristian Robinson of Spruson & Ferguson explained, under the self-assessment system, an applicant could technically get a patent on a wheel.

Starting February 14, applications with a negative examination report will not result in a granted patent. In support of this change, the IP Office of Singapore also built an in-house examination department. Previously, examinations were outsourced to the Austrian, Danish and Hungarian patent offices.

Click here for Managing IP’s analysis of the changes.

Part of a larger plan

The change to a positive grant system is one part of Singapore’s plans to be a hub for IP services in the region. Hong Kong, the city Singapore is most often compared to, is similarly positioning itself as an IP marketplace. Last year, Hong Kong announced that it will reform its laws and start granting patents based on its own examination system while retaining its current recordal system. The Hong Kong plan is still in its initial stages, but several sources say that the IP Department has arranged for SIPO to provide examination capacity while Hong Kong’s system is being built.

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