For a business, accelerating the grant of a patent can provide early certainty of the validity of a patent, and expedite access to markets and commercialisation of one’s products and services. In this regard, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) has in recent years launched several accelerated programmes to speed up the patenting process. In Singapore, it is now possible to obtain grant of a patent within 12 months from filing. For patent applications related to FinTech and Artificial Intelligence, the patenting process can be as fast as six months from the date of filing.
IPOS has been actively building bridges to help accelerate innovation growth with the intellectual property offices (“IP Offices”) of the nine participating ASEAN Member States of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam. With the following filing strategies, Singapore can serve as a gateway towards accelerating the grant of patents in the ASEAN region:
- ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation (“ASPEC”); and
- Patent re-registration in Cambodia and Lao PDR.
ASPEC is a regional patent work-sharing programme among the IP Offices of nine participating ASEAN Member States which gives patent applicants the option to use the search and examination reports of participating IP Offices or Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) reports from an ASEAN International Searching Authority (“ISA”) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (“IPEA”) to accelerate the patenting process in any one of the other participating IP Offices. IPOS is both an ISA and IPEA.
For patent applications that are related to key emerging technologies such as FinTech, cybersecurity and robotics, patent applicants can also take advantage of a new initiative, the ASPEC Acceleration for Industry 4.0 Infrastructure and Manufacturing (“ASPEC-AIM”), to accelerate examination when filing an ASPEC request. The ASPEC-AIM has a shorter turnaround time of six months for the first office action.
The Ministry of Industry and Handicraft of Cambodia (“MIH”) and IPOS have established cooperation to allow patents granted in Singapore to be re-registered in Cambodia. This is pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by MIH and IPOS in January 2015.
On 27 November 2019, IPOS signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Department of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Lao PDR (“DIP”) featuring the following two broad areas of collaboration:
- To grant quality patents in Lao PDR, DIP will draw on IPOS’ patent search and examination expertise and services.
- To accelerate enterprise access into both markets, DIP will allow Singapore granted patents to be re-registered in Lao PDR.
This means that aside from Cambodia, it is soon possible to re-register a Singapore patent in Lao PDR as well. DIP and IPOS would be working out the details and an update will be provided when further details are available.
Patent re-registrations are typically straightforward. It may therefore be administratively easier and more cost effective to prosecute a patent application in Singapore until grant, followed by re-registration in Cambodia and Lao PDR.
In summary, with the possibility of obtaining grant of a Singapore patent within 12 months from filing, patent applicants may wish to consider filing a Singapore patent application to accelerate patenting process in the ASEAN region via ASPEC or patent re-registration, where applicable.