October 1, 2015
Singapore’s Patents Act is set to change again and the new amendments will take effect from 1 January 2017. This new change will result in an increase in the cost of obtaining patents in Singapore. This article provides the details and recommends steps to be taken to minimise the additional costs.
Amendments to the Singapore’s Patents Act
Singapore’s patents regime had most recently undergone major changes on 14 February 2014. It is set to change again with effect from 1 January 2017.
Significant changes to the Patents Act (Cap. 221) introduced on 14 February 2014 include:
- change from a “self assessment” system to a “positive grant” system, where only patents with a favourable examination report may proceed to grant;
- introduction of a supplementary examination process where an applicant seeks to rely on the final search and examination results of a corresponding application, a related national phase application or Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application;
- change of time lines for complying with the various examination options; and
- removal of post-grant search and examination provisions.
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) conducted several rounds of public consultation earlier this year on the proposed changes to the Patents Act. After the public consultations, IPOS confirmed that a decision has been made to proceed with the following changes:
Abolishment of the “foreign route”
With the amendment, applicants will no longer be able to rely on the final search and examination results of a corresponding application, a PCT application or a related national phase application (foreign route).
With the abolishment of the foreign route, applicants will have to rely on:
- the “local route” (where a request is filed for local search and examination); or
- the “mixed route” (where the search report is that issued in a corresponding application, a corresponding PCT application or a related national phase application, and a request is filed for the local examination).
The abolishment of the foreign route will increase the cost of obtaining patents in Singapore as applicants have to pay the fees for the local examination.
This change will apply to all applications filed after 1 January 2017. The changes, however, will not apply to PCT applications with an international filing date before 1 January 2017, entering national phase in Singapore after 1 January 2017.
Introduction of fees for supplementary examination
Under the present system, applicants proceeding under the foreign route have to request for supplementary examination, but no fee is payable.
With effect from 1 January 2017, a fee of S$400 (approximately US$300) will be payable for a request for supplementary examination. The fee will apply to all requests for supplementary examination filed on or after 1 January 2017, and will be increased annually over a period of a few years.
The amendments will increase the cost of obtaining patents in Singapore. In order to avoid the increased costs, applicants are advised to file their patent applications in Singapore prior to 1 January 2017, to take advantage of the foreign route. In the case of existing applications, requests for supplementary examination should be filed prior to 1 January 2017, to avoid having to pay the fees which will be payable from 1 January 2017.
Read our article on the previous amendments here.