The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) in its continuing effort to expand support to innovators, launched a new programme named the “SG Patent Fast Track” on 4 May 2020 to replace the existing patent acceleration programmes, namely FinTech Fast Track and Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence (“AI2”), which ceased on 25 April 2020 and 3 May 2020, respectively.
With the “SG Patent Fast Track”, innovators will benefit by having their patent applications granted in a remarkably short period of time, for instance, in as short as six months upon filing an application. The programme is open to all innovators from any field of technology. This is unlike the two previous programmes that were mainly for Fintech or Artificial Intelligence technologies. It is a definite boon to innovators as they will be given an equal opportunity to request acceleration on the file-to-grant process for their patent applications.
The “SG Patent Fast Track” is set to run from 4 May 2020 to 29 April 2022. Currently, no official fees will be payable for using the programme. However, any revision on the framework or costs, if any, will be notified by IPOS in the future. To qualify for the programme, a patent application must comply with the following criteria:
- The patent application must be first filed in Singapore (i.e. without any priority claim).
- The patent application must not be a divisional application.
- The patent application must contain no more than 20 claims.
- There is available capacity for the patent application to be processed under the programme. Only 5 applications a month will be processed under the programme on a first come first served basis. Unutilized capacity for the month will be rolled over once to the next month subject to a maximum cap of 10 applications a month.
- The patent application is filed by one who has not fully utilized his/her allowable number of requests under the programme which is set at 10 applications per year per applicant.
Separately, it is important to note that the patent application has to be filed together with a Request for Search and Examination and accompanied with a FastTrack document stating the reason(s) as to why the patent application will need a shorter prosecution timeframe for grant as well as indicating the field of technology to which the invention relates. Several possible reasons for requesting this programme have been suggested, as follows:
- The patent application is filed for an emerging technology with a short product lifecycle; or
- The patent application relates to an invention that provides a solution in addressing an environment or public health issues, for example, food securities, mitigating climate change, waste water and smart energy management, and therapeutic agents to combat COVID-19.
Once the patent application has been accepted to be processed under the SG Patent Fast Track programme, any formalities examination adverse report or written opinion relating to substantive examination as issued by the IPOS must be responded within 2 months upon receipt thereof to meet the prosecution timeline. Further, there is also a requirement for the patent application under the programme to be published before the grant of the patent, a Request for Early Publication must therefore be filed before or concurrently with the grant fee payment.
The SG Patent Fast Track programme complements Singapore’s drive to becoming a global research and development hub.