On 4 August 2014, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) introduced a Performance Pledge for Intellectual Property (IP) Registration. Under this new pledge, a grant of a Singapore patent application may be obtained within 12 months from the date of filing the application if certain requirements are met. A Singapore design application may be obtained within four (4) months from the date of filing if there are no objections. A Singapore trade mark registration may be obtained within nine (9) months from the date of filing if there are no objections or oppositions to the application.
In connection with IP disputes, IPOS has also pledged to adjudicate 90% of cases within 4 months from the time they are ready for full hearings and to issue Grounds of Decision within 3-6 months from the conclusion of full hearings for straightforward cases. This means that companies may leverage their innovation and intellectual property as their business competitive edge faster once their applications are granted or disputes concerning their intellectual property are resolved. This pledge goes hand-in-hand with Singapore’s recent move to a positive grant system under its new patent law, bringing Singapore’s patent practices into alignment with that of established regimes such as the US, UK, Japan and the European Union.
It is IP innovativeness like this that has led the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 to again award Singapore the top position in Asia and the second position in the world for IP protection. This marks the fourth consecutive year that Singapore has retained these top positions for IP protection and complements Singapore’s efforts in developing into the IP Hub of Southeast Asia. The WEF Global Competitiveness Report is the most comprehensive assessment of national competitiveness worldwide. For the 2014-2015 edition, the WEF looked at the competitiveness landscape of 144 economies to identify the drivers of their productivity and prosperity, interviewing over 14,000 business leaders in the process.
Singapore’s business-friendly IP regime has encouraged leading global companies such as Procter and Gamble, Continental, and Mead Johnson, all of whom have selected Singapore as their location of choice for investments in business and research & development, citing the country’s strong protection of IP rights as a factor in their decisions. Further, the business-friendly IP regime has also brought in a flow of foreign investments into Singapore. In the area of franchising and licensing, Singapore was estimated to have over 600 franchising systems with more than 40,000 franchisees in 2012, accounting for 18% of total domestic retail sales volume.
Singapore is also continually introducing new IP initiatives to help businesses, such as an IP Financing Scheme that enables companies to value and monetise their granted patents, the establishment of an IP ValueLab that promotes and develops IP management and strategy, IP commercialisation and monetisation, and IP valuation in Singapore. These new initiatives work towards helping Singapore companies to better leverage IP as their business competitive edge. And it is expected that these new initiatives will continue to benefit both global and local companies to select Singapore as their location of choice for business investments and research and development.