On 25 September 2014, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) was appointed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as an International Authority under the PCT. The appointment is expected to be effective by early 2015.
As an International Authority, Singapore joins the exclusive ranks of only 17 other countries appointed to conduct international searches and examination of patent applications filed under the PCT. Moreover, Singapore is the first International Authority appointed by WIPO within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
With this endorsement, Singapore’s bid to become an IP Hub in ASEAN has undoubtedly received another boost and is good news for ASEAN based PCT Applicants who will be able to elect Singapore to conduct international search and examination of their PCT applications. The proximity of the IPEA (International Preliminary Examining Authority) coupled with the greater ease of interviewing examiners is expected to result in prosecution advantages that may have been unavailable to applicants based in Singapore and other ASEAN countries.
The appointment comes on top of news that IPOS has completed three additional PPH agreements with: the German Patent Office (DPMA), Russian Patent Office (Rospatent) and the European Patent Office (EPO). The DPMA-IPOS agreement has been effective since 1 October 2014. The Rospatent-IPOS PPH will come into effect on 1 November 2014, while the EPO-IPOS PPH is set to commence on 1 January 2015. The growing number of PPH agreements is testimony to the quality of searches and examination that is being conducted by the IPOS examiners.
These developments will no doubt change the way patent attorneys and in-house counsels alike approach filing strategy for their clients or employers. Now, more than ever, there are incentives for PCT Applicants, particularly within the Asian region, to utilize IPOS as an office for first filing. Combined with an ever expanding portfolio of PPH agreements, IPOS is offering patent applicants an avenue to potentially shorten the prosecution period and reduce prosecution costs not merely in Singapore, but worldwide.