In light of technological advances and with a view to provide business certainty, the Singapore Ministry of Law ("MinLaw") and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore ("IPOS") have published a consultation paper proposing several changes to the Singapore's registered designs regime in five key areas:
(i) Scope of protection
Proposals are being considered to expand the scope of definition of what would constitute a "design" to provide for a greater range of protectable designs.
(ii) Substantive examination
Given that the current system of design registration in Singapore is formalities-based, proposals are being considered to implement substantive examination to enhance the quality and enforceability of registered designs.
(iii) Formalities and operation issues
A proposal has been put forth to increase the grace period for statutory exceptions to prejudicial disclosure from the current 6 months to 12 months.
(iv) Infringement and enforcement
It was recognized that there was a low level of enforcement of registered designs and this was attributed to a low level of awareness. Proposals have thus been put forth to provide guidance notes on the Registered Designs regime.
(v) Utility model protection
At present, Singapore does not provide utility model protection for sub-patentable inventions which are not covered by design protection due to their functional nature, but do not possess the level of innovativeness required for patent protection. Proposals have been considered in relation to the introduction of a form of utility model protection, although the preliminary indication is that such a form of protection is unlikely to be introduced.
The full details on the proposed changes to the registered designs regime can be found in the Public Consultation Paper on the Registered Designs at: http://www.ipos.gov.sg/AboutIP/IPLegislation/PublicConsultations.aspx.