Present Situation Regarding The Foreign Reliance Route

Back in the third quarter of 2015, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) made an announcement that from 1 January 2017 onwards, patent applicants in Singapore could no longer rely on the grant or the allowance of a foreign corresponding application when seeking the grant of a Singapore patent (i.e. foreign reliance route).

We were aware that there was some concern from some foreign applicants who filed patent applications in Singapore when they were notified of the announcement. Correspondingly, there was some lobbying against the aforementioned change announced by IPOS.

During the second quarter of 2016, IPOS held several informal sessions with Singapore practitioners, and it appeared that in view of the lobbying which they received, there were hints that IPOS had carefully considered the feedback that they received and that IPOS was willing to make concessions on their announcement which they made in the third quarter of 2015.

IPOS Delays Closure Date To 2020

On 27 July 2016, IPOS issued an update regarding the impending closure of the foreign reliance route.

The implementation date of the closure has now been delayed to 1 January 2020. As such, patent applications with a date of filing earlier than 1 January 2020 will still be allowed to use the foreign reliance route. However, patent applications with a date of filing and divisional patent applications with a lodgement date on or after 1 January 2020 will not be able to use the foreign reliance route.

Points To Note In View Of The Change

1. It appears that IPOS is receptive to constructive feedback and have shown that they will act reasonably upon receiving the feedback. This is helpful for Singapore's push to be a regional hub for IP.
2. Patent applicants in Singapore have an extended duration of time to adapt to the closure of the foreign reliance route compared to the initial proposed deadline. This is helpful when forecasting IP costs over the medium term.
3. There has been no indication with regard to when the legislation in Singapore will be amended to reflect the latest announcement. In this regard, there may still be further changes regarding the foreign reliance route. However, we shall endeavour to provide updates when there is more certainty.