Earlier this year, Singapore advanced in its quest to become an intellectual property hub in the ASEAN region with the appointment of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) as an International Authority in Patent Search and Examination, specifically as an International Searching Authority (ISA), and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This marked IPOS as the first IP office to receive ISA/IPEA recognition by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) within the ASEAN region.
With a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) executed in late October between IPOS and the Thailand Department of Intellectual Property at the Ministry of Commerce at the fourth Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Economic Relationship (STEER) Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand becomes the eighth country to recognise IPOS as an ISA and IPEA under the PCT. This means that Thai applicants can now utilise Singapore’s search and examination services when filing for patent protection under the PCT.
Thailand joins the United States, Japan, Mexico and the ASEAN countries of Brunei, Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam in recognising IPOS as an ISA/IPEA. This development also aligns with the existing regional cooperation between Singapore and other ASEAN countries by allowing businesses and entrepreneurs from over half of ASEAN to now utilise Singapore’s search and examination services to seek patent protection internationally.
In addition, the Singapore/Thailand MoC complements existing regional patent cooperation through an arrangement known as ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC). With the sharing of patent examination information between the IP offices, businesses in the ASEAN region could expect to save time and cost when they file their patent in ASEAN. Since its launch three years ago, 80% of applicants who leveraged on ASPEC received a first office action within nine months, compared to the previous two to seven year wait time.
Outside the ASEAN region, IPOS’s recognition as a competent ISA and IPEA for PCT applications filed in the United States, Mexico and Japan complements its participation in the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) and bilateral patent prosecution highways that expedite patent applications to over 30 countries, including key economies such as Europe, China, Japan and Korea.
Singapore’s robust IP regime has been consistently ranked as one of the best in the world. The new collaboration between IPOS and the Thailand Department of Intellectual Property at the Ministry of Commerce is an extension of cooperation between Singapore and other countries, reaffirming Singapore as an active contributing member on issues pertaining to intellectual property in the ASEAN region.