As part of the IP Hub Master Plan adopted by the Singapore Government in April 2013, which sets out a 10-year master plan for Singapore to become the global IP hub in Asia, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is reviewing its registered design regime and has recently (from 16 May 2014 to 6 June 2014) conducted a public consultation on possible changes.
The objective of the review is to develop a design regime that is “relevant to stakeholders, that supports and encourages the growth of designs-related industries, and that is able to deal with the advent of new technologies and business models”.
Some notable issues raised for consultation are:
- Whether the definition of “design” (viz, “features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process”) should be widened to include other types of designs - e.g. dynamic Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), arrangement or interior layout of rooms or storefronts, and designs meant to be applied to all types of articles, such as computer-generated graphics. All the 3 types of designs are included in the current (Tenth) edition of the Locarno Classification. In Singapore, however, the operative edition of the Locarno Classification is the Seventh edition.
- Whether an unregistered design right should be introduced to provide automatic, free protection for designs.
- Whether substantive examination should be introduced for design applications. At present, there is only a formalities examination and a design will be accepted for registration as long as the formality requirements are complied with.
- Whether a grace period should be provided to allow the design owner to publicly disclose his design prior to filing.
- Whether dual protection under the Copyright Act and the Registered Designs Act should be allowed. Currently, the provisions in the Copyright Act operate such that copyright protection is excluded or limited if the design corresponding to an artistic work is registered or registrable pursuant to the Registered Designs Act.
- Whether any changes should be made to the registered designs regime to take into account the emergence of 3D printing.