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29 May 2019

With immediate effect from 26 April 2019, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) will accelerate grants of AI-related patent applications to just six months, compared to a typical period of at least two years or more, which will be the fastest in the world. The Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence (“AI2”) will be effective for a period of two years and limited to 50 applications per year. However, IPOS will have the discretion to adjust the number of applications received and/or the criteria for acceleration.

IPOS has issued Patents Circular No. 2/2019 on “Launch of AI2” Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence - An Accelerated Application-to-Grant Service for Patent Applications in Artificial Intelligence” (“Circular”) which sets out, among others, the eligibility criteria, flowchart of the AI2 process and a list of Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”).

This initiative has also been extended to AI innovators (individuals and corporate entities) outside of Singapore, allowing them to use Singapore as a base to access markets of their interest speedily. To be eligible for AI2, the following criteria need to be fulfilled:

  • The application is an AI invention;
  • Application has to be first filed in Singapore; 
  • Form PF1: Request for Grant of Patent and Form PF11: Request for Search and Examination Report have to be filed on the same day; 
  • Application shall contain 20 or fewer claims; 
  • Applicant needs to respond within two weeks from the date of receipt of formalities examination adverse report; 
  • Applicant needs to respond within two months from the date of receipt of written opinion; and 
  • A supporting document tagged as Fast Track document stating that the application is an AI invention has to be furnished during the submission of Form PF11.

As filing a patent application can be technically and procedurally complex, it is recommended for an applicant to consider engaging the services of a registered patent agent to assist with the drafting of the specification and the submission of the patent application. The professional fees range from S$10,000 to S$26,000. No additional fee is required to participate in AI2.

An application will generally be accorded acceleration unless the prosecution proceeds beyond two written opinions. In such an event, the examiner has the discretion to place the application in the regular track for processing.

A notice will be put up on IPOS’ website three months before the termination of the initiative.

Practical impact

This AI2 initiative by the IPOS aligns with the IPOS’s existing FinTech Fast Track (FTFT) initiative as patents obtained under these expedited options may then in turn be utilised to expedite grant of corresponding patent applications.

For example, patents granted under either of these initiatives may be used together with the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) programme, the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) programme or the IPOS PPH-partner programme to expedite grant of corresponding patent applications in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Japan, the United States of America, Korea, China, Europe, Mexico or any other countries whose IP offices participate in the GPPH programme.

In summary, businesses who are interested in seeking patent protection for their Artificial Intelligence or FinTech innovations should consider first filing a Singapore patent application for their invention so that they may participate in either one of these initiatives to obtain expedited grant of the Singapore patent. The Singapore patent then may in turn be used to greatly accelerate grant of most of their corresponding patent applications thereby improving their competitiveness in this fast evolving area of technology.

Reference materials

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

 

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