The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has launched a new service which will give the public improved access to patent documents in Singapore and has also released a number of proposals to enhance Singapore’s patents regime.
Improved access to patent documents
On 24 July 2017, the IPOS launched the Patents Open Dossier service on the existing IPOS online portal. The Patents Open Dossier provides the public with a single point of access to a collection of patent documents of published patent applications lodged on or after 14 February 2014 in Singapore. The available patent documents include, but are not limited to: search reports, office actions and responses, patents forms, notifications from the IPOS, etc.
Prior to the launch of the Patents Open Dossier, the online portal only allowed access to the specifications, drawings, and amendments/corrections of published patent applications, and any party who wished to obtain further patent documents would have to submit a formal request to the IPOS and pay a fee. Thus, the availability of the Patents Open Dossier is a welcome change that allows a quick retrieval of patent file wrappers.
Enhancing the patent system
In addition, the Ministry of Law and the IPOS are seeking feedback from the public and stakeholders on several proposed changes to enhance the patent system in Singapore, as briefly summarised below. Submissions on the proposals will be received until 15 August 2017.
1.Third party observations (before patent grant)
The IPOS has outlined a proposal for formal submission of third party observations. The proposed process, while apparently more limited than a formal opposition procedure, would provide a third party with a cost-effective opportunity to submit information which may be relevant to the examination of a patent application.
2. Re-examination (after patent grant)
The IPOS has outlined a proposal for re-examination of a granted patent. Notably, the proposed re-examination process is ex parte and the request can be filed anonymously. Further, the results of the re-examination are proposed to be binding.
3. Isolated/purified products from the nature and processes that occur in nature
The IPOS is proposing several revisions to the section of the Examination Guidelines that discusses discoveries, to clarify the distinction between inventions and discoveries as applied to the issue of isolated products found in nature. For example, a new use of an isolated/purified material or microorganism can be claimed. Also, an isolated/purified material or microorganism and a new use of the isolated/purified material or microorganism which has been modified such that the modified material or microorganism can be clearly distinguished from the isolated/purified naturally-occurring material or microorganism, can be claimed.
Further to the above, the IPOS has also put forward proposals relating to the implementation of the grace period provisions, and the possibility for patentable subject matter objections during supplementary examination.
Following the implementation of the positive grant system in 2014, the proposals are expected to introduce some major changes and bring the patents regime in Singapore more in-line with established practices in other jurisdictions. Thus, we generally see these changes as steps in the right direction.
More details on the public consultation can be found at https://www.ipos.gov.sg/resources/ip-legislation. The closing date for submissions to the IPOS is 15 August 2017.