On 1 July 2020, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore ("IPOS") and the Korean Intellectual Property Office ("KIPO") signed a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU").
This partnership aims to foster bilateral support on the commercial exploitation of Intellectual Property ("IP") assets and promote growth in industries that rely on technologies (for e.g., those pertaining to medicine, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IOT)), so as to further strengthen the long-standing relationship between the countries. In 2019, South Korea was Singapore’s eighth largest trading partner with a total of SGD 39.4 billion bilateral trade and the IPOS had recorded a 47% increase in patent applications originating from South Korea. Under this partnership:
- Korean applicants are able to choose IPOS as an International Search Authority (“ISA”) to search and examine patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty ("PCT"), and may rely on these reports to accelerate their patent grant in other countries; and
- Korean applicants will have access to IPOS’s technical expertise and bilingual abilities to conduct prior art searches in both the English and Chinese languages. This will be especially useful for Korean enterprises which are considering entering the Chinese market since they can now choose IPOS as an ISA to gain early insight into relevant prior art in the Chinese language.
Former IPOS Chief Executive Daren Tang summarised the MOU's implications stating that the MOU, “will also enhance Singapore’s attractiveness as a base for Korean innovators to access regional markets and beyond”. This MOU will strengthen the position of IPOS as a leading ISA, placing a special emphasis on its bilingual capabilities and ability to provide access to the Chinese market.