The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has recently extended their existing examination acceleration programme for patents, SG IP Fast Track Programme, for another 2 years from 30 April 2022 until 30 April 2024, to give enterprises a competitive advantage as Singapore and the world reopen from the Covid-19 pandemic. Concurrently, however, IPOS has terminated the 12 months File-to-Grant Programme (“12 MG Programme”), another examination acceleration programme of IPOS, starting from 30 April 2022.
On 1 August 2014, IPOS established the 12 MG Programme to offer patent applicants an option to accelerate the grant of patent within 12 months from the filing of the patent application. On 1 May 2020, IPOS launched another examination acceleration programme, SG Patent Fast Track Programme, to expedite the granting of patents in all technology fields provided that the applications are first filed in Singapore (without any priority claim). On 1 September 2020, IPOS then renamed the SG Patent Fast Track Programme as SG IP Fast Track Programme and expanded the programme to include related trademark and registered design applications
On 30 April 2022, IPOS extended the operations of the SG IP Fast Track Programme until 30 April 2024. However, IPOS also ended its 12 MG Programme. IPOS is offering the SG IP Fast Track Programme to applicants at no additional costs until 30 April 2024.
Accelerated Timelines under the SG IP Fast Track Programme
For different types of IP, the expedited timelines under the SG IP Fast Track Programme are as follows:
• Straightforward patent applications can be granted in six (6) months.
• Non-straightforward patent applications can be granted in nine (9) months.
• Straightforward trademark applications can be registered in three (3) months.
• Non-straightforward trademark applications can be registered in six (6) months.
• Design applications can be registered in one (1) month.
Conditions under SG IP Fast Track Programme
From 30 April 2022, general conditions under the SG IP Fast Track Programme have been revised as follows:
• From the current five (5) requests, the monthly cap for patent applications has been revised to ten (10) requests with a cap of two (2) requests per individual or corporation. However, there is no cap on the number of requests for acceleration for trademark and registered design applications.
• The period to file a request for acceleration of a related trademark and/or registered design application has been extended from the current 1 month to 12 months from the date on which the applicant is notified of the successful request for patent acceleration.
In order to qualify and remain on the SG IP Fast Track Programme, Applicant needs to satisfy certain conditions as follows:
a. Cap on the number of requests per month must be met;
b. The Request for Grant of Patent and the Request for Search and Examination Report must be filed on the same day;
c. A document tagged as FastTrack stating the reasons for requesting acceleration and the technology field to which the invention relates must be submitted with the Request for Grant of Patent and the Request for Search and Examination Report;
d. Application must be first-filed in Singapore (without any priority claim);
e. Application must not contain more than 20 claims;
f. Applicant needs to respond within 2 weeks from the date of receipt of formalities examination adverse report;
g. Applicant needs to respond within 2 months from the date of receipt of the written opinion;
h. The patent application will receive up to two office actions during the accelerated process. However, after the second office action, the processing of the patent application will no longer be accelerated; and
i. The request for extension of time for any matter is not allowed during the patent application process.
Applicants with a patent application accelerated under the SG IP Fast Track Programme can also request for acceleration of their related trademark and registered design applications with a prior condition that the trademark and design must be related to the invention itself, or pertain to associated goods and services.
The following are the requirements to qualify for acceleration of the trademark and design applications:
a. The related trademark application must be filed within 12 months of the applicant being notified that a related patent application has been placed on SG IP Fast Track Programme;
b. Once the trademark application has been submitted, the applicant must inform IPOS immediately of the request for acceleration of the trademark application via ad-hoc correspondence on the IPOS Digital Hub, with the subject title “SG IP Fast”;
c. The application must fully adopt the specification of goods and/or services from IPOS’ pre-approved classification database;
d. The application is not for a series mark;
e. The application is not for a non-conventional mark such as 3D shape mark;
f. The application is not for a certification or collective mark;
g. The trademark application will receive up to two office actions during the accelerated process with the following requirements:
a) Objections raised by the examiner in the first office action must all be resolved in the first submission within 1 month from the date of the office action;
b) In case a second office action is issued, the applicant must respond to the second office action as directed by the Registrar within 2 weeks from the date of the office action. Applicant can file a Form TM27 to amend the application. If the objections in the second office action are sustained, the processing of the trademark application will be no longer be accelerated;
h. During the publication stage, the application must not encounter any opposition; and
i. The request for extension of time for any matter is not allowed during the trademark application process.
The related registered design application must be filed within 12 months of the applicant being notified that a related patent application has been placed on SG IP Fast Track Programme.
To date, SG IP Fast Track Programme offers IP applicants with the fastest examination route possible for their IP applications before the IPOS. Hence, extending this programme for another 2 years indeed is a welcome move among innovators and enterprises as the extension would give them additional time to enjoy its benefits to help build their IP portfolios and help meet their business goals and objectives.