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Singapore and China PPH Extension Keeps Up Accelerated and Dynamic Patent Procedure

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) have extended their joint effort for fast and efficient patent protection through the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program. The extension agreement was signed on September 17, 2017 and will be effective until August 31, 2019.

Mr. Daren Tang, Chief Executive of IPOS, and Dr. Shen Changyu of SIPO signed the agreement. The PPH partnership between Singapore and China is currently running on its fourth year, emanating from its initial commencement on September 1, 2013.

To apply for patent protection in other countries, applicants are expected to undergo a series of search and examination procedures in the chosen country. With the help of PPH, countries in partnership are able to share their resources for an improved process. This guarantees faster prosecution since earlier findings can be used as a reference to reduce work time. Moreover, other patent authorities might have access to databases unavailable to the country of origin — providing for better search and examination procedures.

Applicants whose patent claims have been determined to be patentable by IPOS may initiate a PPH application in the partner country. The examination process will then be accelerated in the partner country where additional searches and substantive examination will be conducted.

Applicants who are filing first in Singapore will have IPOS as their Office of First Filing (OFF) and SIPO as their Office of Second Filing (OSF) – vice versa for applicants seeking patent protection in China first and then later in Singapore. Results will be evaluated – the PPH can be terminated if volume exceeds to an unbearable extent, as mentioned in the guidelines made available in 2014.

As per SIPO’s guidelines, if the request for PPH application does not meet the requirements, the Singapore applicant will be notified of the defects in their request and will be allowed a one-time resubmission. After resubmitting, if the applicant has still failed to fulfill the requisites, the application will await action at SIPO on the regular, non-expedited basis.

The PPH agreement is expected to deliver positive results in which patent applicants are benefiting from satisfactory and prompt cross-country patent protection. IPOS also shares PPH alliances with Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI), and European Patent Office (EPO), and is a participating office in the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) pilot program. On the other hand, under the IP5 PPH Pilot Program, which has been extended for another 3 years from 6 January 2017, SIPO continues its alliances with the EPO, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO), further leveraging on the resources and expertise of by these well-developed and recognised IP regimes.

With an increasing backlog of patent applications in IP offices worldwide, it is hoped that PPH programmes such the one between IPOS and SIPO will significantly ease the burden of collaborating IP offices via the removal of extraneous duplication of work among the offices, whilst still maintaining, if not enhancing the standards of patent search and examination.

By Gladys Mirandah and Hilmi Bin Zaini