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02 September 2020

Singapore signs IP agreements with multiple countries to strengthen regional hub ambitions

City-state marks IP Week with global partnerships including Laos, Brazil and China

By Ben Rigby

Singapore marks IP week with new cooperation agreements Shutterstock

Singapore’s intellectual property office IPOS has announced cooperation agreements with Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brazil and China’s Capital Intellectual Property Services Association as it seeks to secure the city-state’s role as an IP hub.

The agreements will cover matters ranging from patent re-registration, mutual collaboration and recognition opportunities, and in the case of Brazil, streamlined patent prosecution procedures, building on earlier agreements made with Ecuador and others.

The announcement coincides with its annual IP week, this year held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 5,000 delegates registered for the online event, which saw participation from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, the US Patent and Trademark Office, and other national bodies, including those from China and Japan, as well as the World Intellectual Property Organisation. 

Rena Lee, chief executive of IPOS, said: “Global IP cooperation has taken on greater importance and urgency during the pandemic, especially given the many new medical discoveries that are being made in the fight against Covid-19.”

She added: “The agreements will strengthen global partnerships, which will in turn make it easier and faster for enterprises to respond to the pandemic and grow their business worldwide using Singapore as a hub for their IP activities.” 

In a keynote address, Singapore’s Second Minister of Law, Edwin Tong, said that with innovations emerging more swiftly and with greater intensity as part of the ‘new normal’, the work of such offices was even more important.

He said: “Concrete initiatives to empower companies in capturing opportunities through IP are already in place, with more on the way. We are accelerating those in the pipeline to support companies through the pandemic. We want to upskill enterprises’ IP capabilities and help businesses obtain quicker and easier IP protection.”

Lau Kok Keng, head of intellectual property at independent firm Rajah & Tann, said the new partnerships were aimed at growing Singapore’s IP capabilities, increasing the range of cross-border collaborations to strengthen IP protection, research, training and information exchanges.

Lau said: “In an era of increasing de-globalisation fuelled by the current pandemic and ongoing trade wars, it is refreshing to see agreements being inked to strengthen global partnerships and bring about greater integration of processes to protect IP created by businesses.”

He highlighted, in particular, the patent prosecution highway agreements, which would allow businesses to obtain patents faster and more efficiently, while pointing to the greater level of cooperation between IPOS and international equivalents as helping to facilitate swifter searches and preliminary examinations. 

That, he said, would “bring more IP related work opportunities to Singapore and enable a strong pool of patent examiners to be built up here.”

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