Comments by Daniel Poh on this topic are featured in an article by Singapore Law Watch, available at www.singaporelawwatch.sg/slw/headlinesnews/60956-scheme-to-draw-talent-to-intellectual-property-sector.html.

On 7 April 2015, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency launched the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for trainee patent agents. Broadly, the programme provides financial assistance to defray the costs of firms hiring trainees to train them as Registered Patents Agents in Singapore.

With Singapore encouraging more companies, including local enterprises, to rely on innovation to gain a competitive edge, there is certainly a demand for the profession. However, the costs for firms to train someone to qualify as a patent agent do not come cheap. First, the trainee has to attend the Graduate Certificate in Intellectual Property (GCIP) programme which equips them with the requisite IP legal knowledge. Secondly, the trainee has to learn on the job under the supervision of a Registered Patent Agent to acquire the skills and knowledge to pass the Patent Agents Qualifying Examinations (PAQE). On average, a trainee takes about three to four years to pass the PAQE, and the firm would incur enormous time costs to educate and train the person. It should be mentioned that the qualifying regime in Singapore is very similar to those adopted in the more established jurisdictions such as Australia, UK and Europe.

With the PCP, eligible firms can claim up to 70 per cent of the GCIP programme fees (capped at S$7,350) and also a monthly training allowance for six months of up 70 per cent of the trainee’s monthly salary (capped at S$2,000). These would certainly go some way to assist IP firms to hire more trainees to meet the demands of the growing IP industry in Singapore