Jurisdiction - Singapore
Reports and Analysis
Singapore – 10 Interesting facts about Patents.

1 November, 2011


1. Singapore patent filings are dominated by foreign entities. Over the past ten years, on average, more than 90% of Singapore patent applications filings were initiated by foreign entities.

2. The only subject matter excluded from patentability in Singapore are inventions pertaining to methods of treatment of the human or animal body. This means that business methods and software inventions can be patented if they meet the patentability requirements.
3. A Singapore resident who wishes to first file a patent application for an invention outside of Singapore, must obtain a security clearance from the Patent Office. If not, the inventor shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 5,000 SGD or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.
4. There is a perception that the search and examination options in Singapore are unnecessarily complicated. However in fact, there are fundamentally only 2 routes: (1) request search and/or examination with the Singapore patent office and (2) rely on the search and/or examination results of another application.
5. When an applicant requests for search and examination with the Singapore patent office, this search and examination is outsourced to other patent offices (Danish, Hungary and Austria) as the Singapore patent office does not have any examiners of its own.
6. Singapore adopts a self-assessment system in granting patents: the onus is on the applicant to ensure that the claims are valid. A patent can be granted irrespective of the fact that the examination report is adverse.
7. Annuities or renewal payments are only payable after the patent has been granted. The renewal fees extend from the 5th year up to the 20th year, and hence, if a patent is granted in its 7th year, the patentee would have to pay the renewal fees for the 5th, 6th and 7th years.
8. It is important to ensure that all claims that are presented for grant are valid. This is because where in any infringement proceedings it is found that a patent is only partially valid, the court shall not grant relief by way of damages, costs or expenses, except where the plaintiff proves that the specification for the patent was framed in good faith and with reasonable skill and knowledge.
9. There is no pre-grant opposition procedure in Singapore and a patent can only be challenged after grant. A revocation action for a patent is heard before the Singapore patent office and the Registrar has the power to revoke a Singapore patent. A revocation action for a patent is brought to the Singapore courts by way of a defence in infringement proceedings.
10. The Singapore patent system provides for the granting of a compulsory licence if the court determines that the grant of a patent licence is necessary to remedy an anti-competitive practice. A compulsory licence is not exclusive, and the remuneration to the patentee shall be determined by a method agreed between the person and the patentee, or in default of agreement, as is determined by the court on the application of the person or the patentee.
For further information, please contact:
Howard Yap, ATMD Bird & Bird

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