The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has announced that the amendments to the Singapore Patents Act and Rules will come into force on 14 February 2014. This new system will affect all new Singapore patent applications, new Singapore national phase applications as well as new divisional applications filed on or after 14 February 2014.

The amendments will introduce several significant changes to both the requirements and procedures for obtaining a patent in Singapore, which include the change from a ‘self-assessment’ system to a ‘positive-grant’ system. Please find below a table highlighting the new changes to the system for your easy reference.

Click here to view table.

Positive grant system in more detail

Under the positive grant system, only applications that meet the patentability requirements can proceed to grant, i.e. only if a Notice of Eligibility is issued. The Notice of Eligibility is issued if the claims of the application are found to be novel, inventive and industrially applicable after ‘Substantive Examination’ or ‘Supplementary Examination’.

On the other hand, if applications do not meet the patentability requirements, a Notice of Intention to Refuse will be issued. The applicant would then have the option to request an ‘Examination Review’ or just allow the application to be finally refused.

‘Substantive Examination’ and ‘Supplementary Examination’ will be discussed further below:

Substantive Examination

The applicant may file a request for local substantive examination within 36 months from the filing date or priority date, whichever applies. The substantive examination is performed based on either (i) a local search report issued by Singapore (only if a request for search is filed within 13 months from the filing date or priority date); or (ii) a foreign search report issued for a corresponding foreign application. Alternatively, the applicant may request a combined search and examination within the 36-month deadline.

If the Examiner has objections on e.g. the patentability of the claims, clarity of the specification, support of the claims, additional matter, and/or double patenting, a Written Opinion will be issued detailing each objection. A response to the Written Opinion must be filed within 5 months from issuance of each Written Opinion. The substantive examination process must be completed within 18 months from the issuance date of the first Written Opinion.

Upon completion of the substantive examination process, the Examiner will issue a Substantive Examination Report along with a Notice of Eligibility or a Notice of Intention to Refuse. For the latter, the applicant would then have the option to file a request for an Examination Review or allow the application to be finally refused.

Supplementary Examination

Apart from the Substantive Examination option discussed above, the applicant may opt to obtain a Singapore patent on the basis of foreign examination results issued for a corresponding foreign application, by filing a request for Supplementary Examination within 54 months from the filing date or priority date, whichever applies. Required documents for filing the request include (i) a copy of either the corresponding foreign patent or the final examination results with allowed claims referred to in the results; and (ii) a table setting out how each Singapore claim is related to the allowed claims of corresponding application.

If the Examiner has objections on e.g. the support of the claims, additional matter, and/or double patenting, a Written Opinion will be issued detailing each objection. A response to the Written Opinion must be filed within 3 months from issuance of each Written Opinion. The supplementary examination process must be completed within 6 months from the issuance date of the first Written Opinion.

Upon completion of the supplementary examination process, the Examiner will issue a Supplementary Examination Report along with a Notice of Eligibility or a Notice of Intention to Refuse. For the latter, the applicant would then have the option to file a request for an Examination Review or allow the application to be finally refused.