On 20 October 2015, we reported the intention of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) to close the “Foreign Route”, which allows patent applicants to rely on the allowance or grant of a corresponding patent application or the International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP) in lieu of local substantive search and examination. The IPOS had indicated at the time that the closure will occur no earlier than 1 January 2017. Please see our article of 20 October 2015 for a more detailed discussion on this.

The IPOS has now issued an update that the closure will take effect from 1 January 2020, three years later than originally intended. According to the IPOS, this is to allow sufficient time for patent applicants to adjust to the closure as this is a substantial change in practice.

In addition to the new date for implementing the closure, the IPOS has also now indicated that they will not be imposing the fee (of S$400) for using the “Foreign Route”.

The transitional provisions on which applications the closure will affect remain substantially the same as previously reported, in that:

  • Singapore applications having a date of filing prior to 1 January 2020 will still be able to use the “Foreign Route” - this includes Singapore PCT national phase applications which are filed after 1 January 2020, but its base PCT application has an international date of filing before 1 January 2020; and
  • patent applications with a date of filing and all divisional patent applications with a lodgement date on or after 1 January 2020 will not be eligible to proceed under the “Foreign Route”.