The current Singaporean selfassessment patent system is set to change. With the onus on the applicant to ensure that a patent application meets the necessary legal requirements, it is presently possible to obtain a patent despite an unfavourable examination report.
Come 14 February 2014, a new positive-grant system will come into force and apply to all applications initiated on or after the February commencement date. Under the new law, all issues raised during examination must be resolved before a patent can be granted.
If there are any unresolved objections remaining at the conclusion of examination, applicants can file a request for a review of examination for a final opportunity to submit amendments and arguments. If the patent is not granted, applicants can file a divisional application to continue prosecuting the subject matter of the application.
While it is still possible under the new law to rely on the grant of a corresponding overseas application to meet certain examination requirements, in these cases applicants need to request supplementary examination so it can be determined whether the application meets other local requirements.
Apart from the changes affecting local prosecution, other changes of note include the repeal of the post-grant search and examination option, the increase of extension periods available from the current three months to either six or 18 months, and a significant reduction in the restoration period from the current 30 months to 18 months. The condition for restoration of a lapsed patent has also been changed to unintentional lapse from the earlier standard of “reasonable care”.
The new law provides greater certainty for patentees as well as the general public and is expected to raise the standard of Singaporean patents.