The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) made headlines recently when its Chief Executive, Daren Tang, was appointed as the next Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation with effect from 1 October 2020 (see this link for more information). As Chief Executive of IPOS since November 2015, Daren has earned accolades for several initiatives which have helped to develop Singapore’s IP regime into one of the top IP regimes in Asia and globally. We examine below a number of these initiatives which were implemented in the past year:

Mobile application for trade mark filing

IPOS recently launched IPOS Go, a mobile application which allows users to file trade mark applications directly with IPOS, and which is said to be the first of its kind worldwide. The purpose of launching IPOS Go was to accommodate the increase in trade mark applications in Singapore, which had increased by 30% over the past 5 years. According to IPOS, its mobile application reduces the time taken to file a trade mark application to under 10 minutes.

IPOS Go also uses artificial intelligence technology which allows applicants to search for other trade marks containing similar images to theirs, a feature which could prove to be extremely useful, as this tool is not available through other methods of trade mark filing.

IP dispute resolution

IPOS and the Singapore government have encouraged parties to IP disputes to resolve their differences through dispute resolution conducted in Singapore. Recent initiatives in this area include:

  • Litigation. The new Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Act grants the High Court of Singapore exclusive jurisdiction to hear most types of civil IP disputes. The High Court is the second-highest court in Singapore after the Court of Appeal. The Ministry of Law has also indicated its intention to introduce a specialized track for IP litigation claims that will feature simplified processes, such as a cap on the value of the claim and a cap on the length of the trial.
  • WIPO Mediation for proceedings instituted in IPOS. A mediation promotion scheme was developed for parties to IPOS proceedings who elect to resolve their disputes through mediation under the WIPO Mediation Rules. Under the scheme, parties may receive funding of up to S$10,000 to cover their mediation costs when Singapore IP rights are involved, and up to S$12,000 where foreign IP rights are also included.
  • IP arbitration. At the end of 2019, existing legislation was amended to clarify that IP disputes are capable of being settled by arbitration in Singapore. This aims to facilitate the use of arbitration to settle IP disputes, and to promote Singapore’s position as a venue for international IP arbitration.

These initiatives are broadly consistent with Singapore’s 10-year IP master plan that ends in 2023, which aims to develop Singapore as a global IP hub in Asia. Under this master plan, Singapore recognizes that IP is a key driver of economic development and an increasingly important asset for businesses, and aspires to be a hub for IP transactions and management, quality IP filings, and IP dispute resolution.