The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (the “IPOS”) has shared informally in consultations with Singapore IP practitioners proposed changes to the Singapore patent regime which will have important implications for IP owners. Here is a snapshot of the changes in the pipeline.

Closing the foreign route to patent applications

Currently, it is possible to obtain a patent in Singapore by filing a supplementary examination request, and simply relying on the search and examination report issued by selected foreign IP offices (the “foreign route”). In other words, if an applicant selects the foreign route, no separate substantive search or examination need be requested with the IPOS.With a view to enhancing the quality of patents granted in Singapore, the IPOS intends to close the foreign route for Singapore patent applications and require that substantive examination be requested with the IPOS for all Singapore applications. These changes will be implemented no earlier than1 January 2017 and will entail amendments to the Patents Act and Patents Rules.

It is proposed that applications with a filing date or lodgement date before1 January 2017 may continue using the foreign route; international applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty with an international filing date before 1 January 2017 will also be eligible to proceed under the foreign route in Singapore even if the national phase of the application in Singapore is after 1 January 2017.

New supplementary examination fee

With effect from 1 January 2017, the IPOS will introduce a fee of S$400 for supplementary examination requests (i.e. applications still going under the foreign route) filed on or after 1 January 2017. The fee will be increased annually over a few years. The IPOS is reviewing its fees on examination and other patent-related fees, and will update again. In view of this, if the foreign route is desired for any specific application, it will be prudent for Singapore applications to be filed and the foreign route selected, well before 1 January 2017.