Businesses and entrepreneurs looking to register their intellectual property (IP) assets may be able to experience a more streamlined and efficient process after the Singaporean Parliament approved changes to IP laws on the 12th January 2022. This move was executed in order to encourage business owners and individuals alike to pursue protection for their intellectual properties. Known as the Intellectual Property (Amendment) Bill, include changes made to multiple intellectual property statutes here, comes amid Singapore’s push to become an IP hub, as the value of intangible assets such as trademarks, patents, and copyrights are overshadowing the value of physical assets globally.
The following are the changes that are expected to be implemented this coming May 2022.
- The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) will be permitting partial acceptance for national trade mark applications. This will allow the expedition for applications that only face objections in relation to some of the goods or services claimed. Further, this aligns the practice with that currently in place for international applications designating Singapore.
- The time frame to restore applications that have been treated as withdrawn will be shortened from 6 months to 2 months. This change will act as a driving force for applicants to carefully monitor and act before the relevant deadlines. This may also benefit prospective applicants that are waiting for the removal of earlier marks on the Register.
- The definition of “earlier trade mark” in the context of citation objections will be clarified to include expired marks that may still be eligible for renewal or restoration.
- IPOS will remove the fee for publishing an English translation of an international application, which will reduce the time, effort and cost for applicants filing non-English international applications.
- Certain documents which were obligated to be provided prior to the amendment will be removed in prescribed circumstances, simplifying the patent prosecution process.
- Examiners will be able to issue invitations to Amend instead of Written Opinions if they believe that the matter can be resolved without a formal response.
- The Bill clarifies IPOS’ ability to make patent documents available to the public, even in the absence of any request for the documents.
- The law currently has no requirement for patent applications to include sequence listings, i.e. listings of nucleotides and amino acids, even when they might be relevant, especially in the biomedical and biotechnological inventions.
- The registrar is allowed to issue practice directions setting out the format in which these sequence listings are to be filed, making patent searches easier and more thorough for examiners and the public.
- An applicant may formally disclaim any right in relation to a specified feature of the design. This would be published and entered into the Register.
- The term “articles or non-physical products” will be clarified to include “sets of articles and non-physical products”.
Plant Variety Protection
- The default obligation to provide propagating material during prosecution will be removed, but may still be requested in certain cases
- The time period for submitting further information, documents, or propagating material requested by an Examiner may be discretionarily extended.
- An applicant may submit a Breeder’s test result to satisfy examination requirements if necessary.
- A late fee penalty will be introduced for the late payment of annual fees.
Additionally, IPOS will be introducing an opposition mechanism in relation to requests to correct errors in applications or registrations which affect third parties, i.e., errors relating to the applicant’s, proprietors or priority details. This change affects the Patents Act, Trade Marks Act, Registered Designs Act, Geographical Indications Act, and Plant Varieties Protection Act. The IP regime in Singapore has already been designed to support the development and use of emerging technologies, particularly with the focus of the masses shifting towards combating climate change and protecting the environment. This Bill allows for quicker protection for inventors, especially for those working in fields with short technology life cycles.