Jurisdiction - Singapore
A Shift from a Self Assessing Patent Regime a Distinct Possibility?

7 December, 2011



Singapore’s existing patent system is a self-assessing one, in that a patent grant will not be refused on the ground that the invention is assessed to be not patentable. Prior to grant, the applicant bears the responsibility and onus of ensuring that his claims for patent protection meet the criteria of patentability, and take measures to amend the application, where necessary to meet any objections raised by the examiner.
The search and examination reports of the Singapore patents are open for public inspection by interested parties. Challenges to the validity of the patent can then be made after the grant of the patent either by a revocation action before the Singapore patent office, or by a revocation action by way of a defense in infringement proceedings before the Singapore courts.
In a consultation paper published by the Singapore patent office in 2009, it was proposed to move the Singapore patent system away from the self assessing regime, and to adopt a more conventional positive examination grant system. In a positive examination grant system, only patent applications which are supported by a positive examination report (i.e. a report with no outstanding objection from the examiner) will be granted.
The rationale behind the proposed change is that a positive examination grant system “provides greater certainty from the business and enforcement perspective for both the patentee and third parties” and “can potentially increase the quality and standards of Singapore granted patents”.
Currently, Singapore maintains the self-assessing system and has not yet adopted the positive examination grant system. This may be because significant changes to the prosecution procedures need to be considered and made, to accommodate such a paradigm shift.
Whatever the case, the author believes that it is inevitable that Singapore will at least lean towards the positive examination grant system. With the stringent patent granting standards perpetuated by the United States, European and Japanese patent offices, it is only a matter of time that we follow suit.
For further information, please contact:
Howard Yap, ATMD Bird & Bird

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