June 1, 2015
At the 54th World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Assemblies held on 25 September 2014, the Assembly of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Union announced the appointment of Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) as an International Authority (IA), which is expected to be effective in the second half of 2015. The appointment of IPOS as an International Search Authority (ISA) and as an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) for patent search and examination makes IPOS the first IP Office in ASEAN and the fifth in Asia (after China, India, Japan and Korea) to be appointed as an IA under the PCT.
Under the PCT international patent filing system, patent protection can be sought throughout 148 countries through a single patent application. The filing of one international patent application will result in the automatic designation of all contracting countries of the PCT. The list of all PCT contracting countries can be found at the following link). However, the PCT is a patent filing system and not a patent granting system. In other words, a PCT filing does not result in a PCT patent which offers global protection. After filing the PCT application, it will be necessary to pursue the application on a country-by-country basis before the various national Intellectual Property Offices.
Presently, there are 17 Intellectual Property Offices appointed as ISAs and IPEAs to conduct the search and examination of PCT applications. A feature which is unique to Singapore is that PCT applicants who choose IPOS as their ISA and IPEA can expect examiners to conduct searches in both English and Chinese. Given the rise of China in the global market, this is expected to be a service which is well-received and valued.
The benefit of the PCT is that it gives the applicant more time to make a decision whether to prosecute the application before the various national Patent Offices as the International Search Report and/or International Preliminary Examination Report issued by the ISA and/or IPEA respectively constitutes a good basis on which the applicant can judge his chances of obtaining protection. It is usually more cost-effective for applicants to file an application through the PCT route if they intend to secure grant of the patent in at least 5 countries.
This recent appointment of IPOS as an International Authority under the PCT is an endorsement of the quality of services offered by IPOS and has certainly strengthened Singapore's proposition as the IP hub of Asia.