An important development in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region was announced at the fourth Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Economic Relationship (STEER) Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand.  Both the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), Ministry of Commerce (Thailand) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation, recognising IPOS as an International Search Authority (ISA) and an International Preliminary Examination Authority (IPEA) for Thai Applicants of the PCT.  Thailand now joins Brunei, Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam in this recognition.

This key development compliments the already ongoing regional cooperation through the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC).  By using ASPEC, applicants with commercial interests in ASEAN save time and money when they file their patent applications in ASEAN by taking advantage of the sharing of patent examination information between IP Offices of ASEAN.  Since the launch of ASPEC, 80% of applicants have received a first office action within nine months, compared to a waiting of between two to seven years previously.

A further advantage for patent applicants is that IPOS’ new appointment as an International Authority will allow IPOS to provide certified services to patent applicants from participating countries.  Applicants can benefit from the ease of application and cost savings of around USD1,070 or up to 75% in rebates on official PCT filing fees.

In the Global Innovation Index 2015, Thailand was ranked fourth in the ASEAN region for innovation performance.  Singapore and Thailand have been strong trade partners, with bilateral trade standing at USD$22 billion in 2014.