The Intellectual Property (Amendment) Bill (Bill) was approved by Parliament on 12 January 2022. It introduces changes to improve Singapore’s intellectual property systems by enhancing business-friendliness, operational efficiency and legislative and procedural clarity. These changes are expected to be implemented in May 2022.
The key changes are as follows.
- The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) will permit partial acceptance for national trade mark applications. This amendment will expedite the progress of applications that only face objections in relation to some of the goods or services claimed. This also aligns the practice with that currently in place for international applications designating Singapore.
- The time frame to “revive” applications that have been treated as withdrawn will be shortened from six (6) months to two (2). There is now greater impetus for applicants to carefully monitor and act before the relevant deadlines. This also benefits prospective applicants that are waiting for the removal of earlier marks on the Register.
- The meaning of “earlier trade mark” in the context of citation objections will be clarified to include expired marks that remain eligible for renewal or restoration.
- IPOS will remove the fee for publishing the English translation of an international application. This will reduce time, effort and cost for applicants filing non-English international applications.
- The obligation to provide certain documents will be removed in prescribed circumstances, simplifying the patent prosecution process.
- Examiners will be able to issue Invitations to Amend instead of Written Opinions if they believe that the matter can be resolved without a formal response.
- An applicant may formally disclaim any right in relation to a specified feature of the design. This would be published and entered in the Register.
- The term “articles or non-physical products” will be clarified to include “sets of articles and non-physical products”.
Plant variety protection
- The default obligation to provide propagating material during prosecution will be removed (but may still be requested in certain cases).
- The time period for submitting further information, documents or propagating material requested by an Examiner may be discretionarily extended.
- An applicant may submit Breeder’s test results to satisfy examination requirements.
- A late fee will be introduced for the late payment of annual fees.
In addition, IPOS will introduce an opposition mechanism in relation to requests to correct errors in applications or registrations which affect third parties (e.g. errors relating to the applicant’s, proprietor’s or priority details). This change affects the Trade Marks Act, Registered Designs Act, Geographical Indications Act and Plant Varieties Protection Act.
We would be happy to discuss these changes further. Please contact Thomas Griffiths if you have any queries relating to patents, designs and plant varieties or Esther Seow if you have queries about trade marks and geographical indications.