5 May 2020

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) will offer a pilot programme to accelerate grants of patent applications in all technology fields to just six months, starting from 4 May 2020. The programme - the SG Patent Fast Track - is the world’s fastest application-to-grant process of its kind.

Under the SG Patent Fast Track programme, innovators can expect their qualifying patent applications to be granted in as quickly as six months, compared to a typical period of two years or more.

IPOS plans to end the pilot on 29 April 2022. Circular No. 2/2020 provides details on the eligibility criteria and application process.

The technology-neutral programme reflects the important role intellectual property (“IP”) offices play in supporting innovators and their solutions to address global developments in sustainable development, and particularly in current times, that of public healthcare. Examples of technologies that the programme will benefit include:

  • Technologies with a social impact (e.g. GreenTech relating to sustainable food production, climate change, waste, water and energy management);
  • Technologies with a healthcare impact (e.g. digital health solutions, tracing apps, ventilators, diagnostics kits) among others; and
  • Emerging technologies with a short product lifecycle (e.g. FinTech, Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence). 

Currently, patents relating to climate technologies have limited social benefit as the patents actually prevents the technologies from being widely adopted. By accelerating the grant of such patent applications, and facilitating a faster commercialisation of such patents, the SG Patent Fast Track programme incentivises patentees to increase patent activities, and can encourage patentees to be more willing to pool together patented technologies for common social causes. This was discussed in the article titled “Defining interface between IP rights and climate change” by our Partner and Head of Intellectual Property, Dr Stanley Lai, SC, which was published in The Business Times on 28 April 2020.

The new scheme will replace IPOS’ two other successful initiatives, the FinTech Fast Track (FTFT) and Accelerated Initiatives for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) launched in 2018 and 2019, respectively. As mentioned in the IPOS press release of 27 April 2020, there have been 86 eligible applications under both schemes, 70% of which were filed by Singapore entities. Local companies that have obtained accelerated patent grants include Qrypted Technology and Skyrus Network.

The IPOS press release also stated that the SG Patent Fast Track programme comes as global IP filing activities continue to grow at a rapid pace with patent filings around the world exceeding 3.3 million, representing 5.2% growth between 2017 and 2018. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) latest report, Asia is the hub for global patent filings, receiving over two-thirds (66.8%) of all applications filed worldwide in 2018. Singapore’s robust IP ecosystem has also seen a growth in patent applications filed through Singapore, with a 46% increase, from 9,685 to 14,136 between 2012 and 2019. Innovators are increasingly building their international IP and intangible assets portfolios through Singapore, by relying on IPOS’ patent reports to support their request for patent processing internationally. In 2019, there was a 234% increase (year-on-year) in the use of IPOS reports to accelerate patent grants in other jurisdictions, including major economies like the US, Japan, China and Europe, via IPOS’ Patent Prosecution Highway network.

Additionally, as of January 2020, a total of 508 ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (“ASPEC”) requests have been made based on IPOS reports and this has resulted in the expedited allowance of a similar number of corresponding patent applications in ASPEC member states.

Conclusion

Qualifying patent applications under the SG Patent Fast Track programme may be granted as quickly as six months and is now applicable to eligible patent applications in all technology fields. This development is a welcome reinforcement for a worldwide patent filing strategy for patent applicants to use a first filing of a Singapore patent application, to accelerate their patenting process in the ASEAN region (via ASPEC) and in several countries worldwide via the Patent Prosecution Highway network.

Allen & Gledhill’s Patent Prosecution team is qualified in a diverse range of disciplines and technical expertise and have extensive experience in patent prosecution, advisory and litigation support work (including validity, revocations and infringement analysis). We would be pleased to provide support in your patent filing strategy in the ASEAN region and in other jurisdictions worldwide.

Reference materials

The following reference materials can be found on the IPOS website www.ipos.gov.sg:

 

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