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Singapore – Changes to Patent Practice.

31 July, 2012

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Singapore – Intellectual Property

 

The Singapore Parliament has recently passed the Patents (Amendment) Bill that aims to fundamentally change Singapore’s patent practice. These changes, likely to come into effect later this year, aim to solidify Singapore’s intellectual property (IP) regime, expand its IP capabilities and help develop Singapore to be an Asian IP hub. This article summarises two main changes.

 
The most significant amendment involves the replacement of the current “self-assessment” system with a new “positive grant” system. Under the current’s “self-assessment”, a patent applicant is under no obligation to amend his application at any stage, even in the face of an adverse examiner’s opinion and/or report. A Singapore patent shall issue once the formal requirements are met and upon the completion of one of the search and examination procedures chosen for the application. Therefore, the establishment of an adverse examination report will not bar the application from proceeding to grant.
 
Under the new “positive grant” system, all patent applications must satisfy the patentability criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability in order to proceed to grant. It is Parliament’s intention to raise the quality of Singapore-granted patents and to enhance Singapore’s standing in the IP industry and bring the country’s IP regime at par with that of the UK, US, Japan and European Patent Office.
 
The second key change involves the liberalisation of the patent agent sector in Singapore, thereby increasing expertise to better meet the growing demand for patent services.
 
It was reported in Parliament that Asian countries represent the highest growth in Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications filed. Thus, Singapore is faced with both an opportunity and challenge to develop as a one-stop shop in Asia for procuring and implementing patent services. Hence, with the new changes, foreign qualified patent agents may be registered at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) on the basis of their foreign qualifications. These IPOS-registered foreign qualified agents and foreign firms can undertake offshore patent work in Singapore as long as at least one partner or director is a foreign-qualified IPOS registered agent. The scope of offshore patent work that foreign-qualified agents can do will be restricted to applying for or obtaining patents anywhere except IPOS, preparing patent specifications for filing applications including PCT applications outside Singapore and providing expert advice on patent laws of other countries. 
The drafting and filing of applications with IPOS which requires knowledge of Singapore Patent law, will continue to be only open to registered Singapore patent agents, advocates and solicitors with practicing certificates.
 

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Edmund Kok, ATMD Bird & Bird

[email protected]

 

 

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