Singapore’s Intellectual Property (Border Enforcement) Act 2018 and Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Act 2019 were partially implemented on 21 November 2019.

In this second part of our two-part update, we summarise the changes to Singapore’s Intellectual Property (IP) border enforcement landscape which have come into force as of 21 November 2019, as well as the forthcoming amendments. Please click here for part one on the changes to Singapore’s IP dispute resolution system.

Phase 1 Amendments – obtaining information relating to seizure

With the passing of the Intellectual Property (Border Enforcement) Bill on 9 July 2018, the Copyright Act and Trade Marks Act were first amended to give Singapore Customs wider powers to obtain relevant information and documents after goods or copies of copyright material have been seized.

Phase 2 Amendments – increased Customs seizure powers

Further amendments were implemented on 21 November 2019 in connection with the EU–Singapore Free Trade Agreement coming into force.

Under these amendments, proprietors and licensees of registered trade marks or copyright can now request seizure of suspected infringing goods or copies of copyright material, regardless of whether they are imported or bound for export. After seizure, Singapore Customs may also provide a rights holder with the relevant names and contact details that it has obtained – information that is extremely valuable for proprietors investigating the movement of infringing goods across multiple territories.

Further, Customs now has the power to seize suspected counterfeit goods or infringing copies of copyright material even if they have not received a specific request from a rights holder. Previously, Customs only had the power of ex officio detention. This amendment gives rights holders more latitude to prepare an enforcement strategy as seized goods are generally held for ten working days before being released, whereas detained goods are released after 48 hours if the appropriate action is not taken.

Phase 3 Amendments – implementation for designs and GIs

The measures outlined above only apply to copyright and trade marks. Corresponding amendments to the registered designs and geographical indications regimes will be implemented within the next three years.