With the aim of increasing the flow of innovation into the ASEAN region, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has launched new initiatives with eight other intellectual property (IP) offices in the ASEAN region, namely the IP offices of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
One of the said initiatives is the so-called ASPEC Acceleration for Industry 4.0 Infrastructure and Manufacturing (ASPEC-AIM). ASPEC stands for ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation and is a regional patent work-sharing programme among participating ASEAN member states to allow applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster at a lower cost. Industry 4.0 refers to a new phase in the industrial revolution that focuses on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning and real-time data. ASPEC-AIM will allow applicants of patents on key emerging technologies, such as financial technology, cybersecurity and robotics, to have their patent applications concluded within six (6) months from filing. This initiative will run until 27 August 2021.
In addition to ASPEC-AIM, all nine participating ASEAN IP Offices have also agreed to widen the scope of ASPEC by allowing applicants to use their Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) reports, i.e. International Search Report (ISR) and International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP), issued by an ASEAN International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA), to expedite their patent applications in any of the participating ASEAN countries.
So far, only IPOS and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) are appointed as ISAs and IPEAs amongst the ASEAN countries. Hence, PCT reports issued by either of these two IP offices may be used to get a faster grant in any participating ASEAN country. This initiative will run until 27 August 2022.
Apart from the above initiatives with ASEAN countries, Singapore has also its own initiative as well as partnerships with other IP offices, authorities and enterprises, which include
A. Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence (AI)
IPOS has announced that one of China’s biggest e-commerce companies, Alibaba Group Holding, has obtained its AI patent in Singapore in just three months, which is a world record as it would normally take an average of two to four years to procure a patent. The patent was issued under IPOS’ Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence.
B. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
IPOS has also signed six memoranda of understanding and partnership agreements, which are as follows:
Ø An MOU with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) in support of the SG-UK Partnership for the Future Framework, to create a wide framework for both offices to explore cooperation in IP protection, commercialization and utilization;
Ø An MOU with Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property to promote the facilitation of innovative enterprises from Singapore and Brazil, and cooperative arrangements such as a pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH);
Ø An MOU with Qatar Free Zones Authority to support bilateral economic engagements;
Ø An agreement between IPOS International and IPR Daily, an IP media that focuses on IP services and IP industry ecosystem, to develop cooperation activities that promote and increase knowledge and capabilities of enterprises in IP protection, commercialisation and management;
Ø An implementation work plan with the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam to deepen bilateral cooperation in the areas of IP commercialisation and patent work-sharing; and
Ø An extension of the PPH with China’s National IP Administration to continue the sharing of search and examination results between both IP offices until 31 August 2021 to expedite and ease the patent application process for applicants from both countries.
The above initiatives and agreements are intended to boost Singapore’s role as an IP hub and fuel economic growth for Singapore as well as the ASEAN region.