Singapore pilot offers world’s fastest patent

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The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has launched the world’s fastest application-to-grant process of its kind with a pilot programme called SG Patent Fast Track, which accelerates granting of patent applications in all technology fields to just six months, starting from 4 May 2020.

The programme will benefit technologies with a social and healthcare impact, as well as emerging technologies with short product lifecycles. Under the programme, innovators can expect their qualifying patent applications to be granted in six months, compared to a typical period of two years or more. The pilot is planned to end on 29 April 2022.

Examples of technologies that the programme will benefit include: Technologies with a social impact (e.g., green technology relating to sustainable food production, climate change, waste, water and energy management); technologies with healthcare impacts (e.g., digital health solutions, tracing apps, ventilators, diagnostics kits); and emerging technologies with a short product lifecycle (e.g., fintech, Industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence).

Sharmaine Wu, director of patents, designs and plant varieties at IPOS, told Asia Business Law Journal the IP office expected significant demand from the Asian market for the faster patent applications.

“Asia has seen exceptional growth in the number of patent filings globally – about 36.9% between 2014 to 2018,” she said. “In Singapore, we have similarly seen an increase in filings from Asia. Between 2014 and 2018, Asian-origin patent applications in Singapore increased from 32.8% to 40.6% of total applications. The IPOS understands that speed to market is important for IP and innovation-rich companies.

“Singapore is well positioned as a gateway to the ASEAN and global markets. Over the years, we have established various acceleration networks and programmes to help enterprises speed up their patent grant process, such as the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH), bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), and ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC). Altogether, a Singapore patent report can be used to accelerate applications in more than 30 jurisdictions.”

Wu said the SG Patent Fast Track programme’s shorter time to obtain a Singapore patent could be used to expedite patent applications elsewhere through the above-mentioned networks.

“In the same time period [2014-2018], two-thirds of ex-ASEAN applicants using the ASPEC programme to expedite patent applications originated from Asia. Being active users of the ASPEC programme, Asian applicants will find the SG Patent Fast Track programme attractive.”

Wu said Japan, China and Korean applicants made up the top Asian foreign filers in Singapore, with Japan currently leading. While Japan has consistently been the top Asian filer, Chinese applicants recorded the highest growth between 2017 and 2019, with a 55% increase, from 645 to 1,554 patent applications.

In related news, IPOS chief executive Daren Tang was appointed as the next director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), succeeding Francis Gurry, from 1 October.