The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) will introduce amendments to its patent examination process with the view of strengthening the patent regime.  The effective date of the amendments is expected to be 1 January 2017.

Foreign Route Option

At present, Singapore patent applicants have the option of choosing a foreign route for examination, i.e. filing a request for supplementary examination and relying upon a search and examination report issued in a corresponding application, a corresponding international application, or a related national phase application, or international preliminary report on patentability (IPRP) of PCT.

Local Substantive Examination for all Singapore Patents

When the amendments come into force, IPOS will close the foreign route described above and all applications filed in Singapore after 1 January 2017 will have to undergo local substantive examination.

Transitional provisions

Under the transitional provisions, all applications filed before 1 January 2017 can proceed under the foreign route even if the national phase entry in Singapore is after 1 January 2017.  Hence, for these cases, a request for supplementary examination can still be made.

Our Recommendation

Given that supplementary examination considers only limited matters, the applications may be allowed based on the examination report issued in a country which may have a different examination procedure with Singapore.  The patentee therefore has to establish the validity of the claims post grant if there are any disputes arising thereafter.  For instance, our firm successfully undertook partial revocation of Singapore Patent No. 51905 that was granted through the foreign route.  Claims 1 to 13 were revoked due to insufficient disclosure and lack of inventive step in the revocation proceedings.

We recommend that all Singapore patent applications take up the local substantive examination route for all ongoing cases in order to secure a strong patent in Singapore.