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.