The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has recently further extended its patent acceleration program, the ASPEC Acceleration for Industry 4.0 Infrastructure and Manufacturing Pilot (ASPEC AIM) Programme until 26 August 2025. This extension allows patent applicants in the ASEAN region to continue benefiting from an accelerated examination procedure for their Industry 4.0 inventions.
ASPEC AIM Programme
The ASPEC AIM Programme, launched as part of the ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation (ASPEC) framework on 27 August 2019, is designed to expedite the processing of Industry 4.0 patent applications. This initiative ensures a prompt response, providing applicants with a shortened turnaround time of six months to receive a first office action. The extension of this program allows applicants to seamlessly leverage ASPEC AIM for expediting the patent prosecution of Industry 4.0 inventions throughout the ASEAN region. It’s worth noting that the annual cap for eligible patent applications remains at 50.
To provide context, ASPEC involves the IP Offices of nine participating ASEAN Member States (AMS): Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Launched on 15 June 2009, the ASPEC program facilitates the exchange of search and examination results among participating offices, enabling applicants in these countries to obtain corresponding patents more efficiently. ASPEC offers multiple advantages, including a reduction in search and examination workload thereby saving time and effort, expedited patent prosecution, and an overall enhancement of the quality of the search and examination process. Importantly, this collaborative effort taps into databases from individual countries, fostering a more comprehensive examination process.
Requirements for Requesting ASPEC AIM Programme
A patent application submitted to a participating AMS IP Office, where the ASPEC Request Form is filed (“second IP Office”), must be a corresponding application to that of another participating AMS IP Office (“first IP Office”). The ASPEC Request requires support through search and examination documents from the first IP Office’s corresponding application.
Any claims submitted in subsequent IP Offices must adequately align with claims deemed allowable or patentable, as indicated in the search and examination documents from the first IP Office.
To be eligible for ASPEC AIM, the first IP Office must specify at least one International Patent Classification (IPC) code found in Appendix 11 originally published at the IPOS website [(see link: appendix-1—ipc-codes-for-industry-4-0-infrastructure-and-manufacturing-(1).xlsx (live.com)].
A patent application in the first IP Office qualifies as a corresponding application if it meets one of the following conditions:
- It is linked by a Paris Convention priority claim to the patent application in the second IP Office, and vice versa; or
- The patent applications in both the first and second IP Offices share the same priority claim from another member of the Paris Convention; or
- The patent applications in both the first and second IP Offices are national phase entry applications derived from the same Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) application.
Procedures for Requesting ASPEC AIM Programme
The Applicant must submit a fully filled ASPEC Request Form, clearly indicating that the request pertains to ASPEC AIM. Required information includes:
- Application number from the first IP Office;
- Desired second IP Office and the application number in the Second IP Office;
iii. Date of the request;
- Reliance on a written opinion or examination report; and
The ASPEC Request Form should be accompanied by the following documents:
- A copy of the written opinion or examination report (“minimum documents”) from a corresponding application in the first IP Office.
- A copy of the claims referenced in the minimum documents submitted, with at least one claim determined by the first IP Office to be allowable/patentable.
The extension of the ASPEC AIM is a positive step forward. With this in place, patent applicants can continue to reap the advantages of an accelerated prosecution process across the ASEAN region for Industry 4.0 inventions.