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Amendments to Patents, Intellectual Property Bills passed

Amendments to the Patents Bill and the Intellectual Property Bill have been passed in parliament to better support Singapore's development as an IP hub.

Amendments to Patents, Intellectual Property Bills passed

Singapore Parliament House (Photo: Hester Tan, channelnewsasia.com)

SINGAPORE: Amendments to the Patents Bill and the Intellectual Property Bill have been passed in parliament to better support Singapore's development as an IP hub.

The proposed changes will see a shift from the current 'self-assessment' patent system to a new 'positive grant' patent system.

It will liberalise the patent agent sector to allow foreign-qualified patent agents to register in Singapore and streamline processes to enable greater efficiencies.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Law, Sim Ann, said the changes will raise the overall quality of patents granted in Singapore and align it closer to that overseas.

She said over the past five years, the proportion of Singapore patent grants based on fully positive examination reports has climbed to more than 90 per cent.

Last year, 95 per cent of Singapore patent grants were based on a fully positive examination report.

Ms Sim added that there are many valuable inventions generated in Singapore today and the patents will help defend them against infringement claims by overseas companies.

She said the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) runs an IP Management for SMEs programme to guide firms in implementing a viable and cost-effective IP management strategy.

To date, more than 250 SMEs have benefited from this programme.

Ms Sim said: "The move to the positive grant patent system will minimise the occurrence of weak patents being granted in future, enhance the standing of Singapore granted patents, and give increased assurance to companies and investors of the quality of Singapore-granted patents. As investors have increased assurance of the quality of Singapore-granted patent, local SMEs could find it easier to raise funds on the basis of their Singapore-granted patents to take their patented inventions to market."

Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, asked why is there a need to restrict foreign patent agents to only offshore patent agency work.

"Conceivably, by doing so, an investor trying to file in the USA, in the EU, in Japan and Singapore will require two different patent agents - that is one who's an expert in offshore patent laws and another who can file with IPOS. My concern is that this will add to the cost of procuring the patents," she asked.

In her response, Ms Sim explained that "every national patent system is different and not all foreign-qualified patent agents may be familiar with Singapore's patent law and practices".

"It would not be in the interest of Singapore inventors or companies if patent agents who are not qualified in Singapore are allowed to file Singapore patent applications or advised on Singapore patent law. However, we do know of a number of foreign-qualified patent agents who've gone on to seek Singapore qualification as well, and we hope this trend will continue even under the new regime."

Source: CNA/fa

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