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Singapore And Thailand Collaborate To Serve Innovators In Patent Protection

28 October 2015

Singapore And Thailand Collaborate To Serve Innovators In Patent Protection

Businesses and innovators from Singapore and Thailand can utilise Singapore’s new search and examination services to file for patent protection under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) that is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an International Patent agreement between 148 countries.

This milestone was reached at the fourth Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Economic Relationship (STEER) Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, where the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) with the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP), Ministry of Commerce (Thailand). The signing was witnessed by Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Lim Hng Kiang, and Thailand’s Minister of Commerce, Mrs Apiradi Tantraporn. With the signing, Thailand joins Brunei, Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam in recognising IPOS as an International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examination Authority (IPEA) under the PCT. Other global economies to appoint Singapore include USA, Japan and Mexico.

Thailand is amongst ASEAN’s best performers in innovation activity. In the Global Innovation Index 2015, Thailand was ranked fourth in the ASEAN region for innovation performance. Between 2011 and 2013, an average of 1,173 resident patent applications and 4,851 non-resident patent applications were made in Thailand yearly, while Thailand’s patent applications abroad grew by an average of 26.1% year-on-year. 2 Historically, Singapore and Thailand have been strong trade partners, with bilateral trade standing at S$30.2 billion in 2014.

“The newly signed Memorandum of Cooperation would enhance the bilateral collaboration between the two IP Offices,” said Director General of the Department of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Commerce, Thailand, Mrs Nuntawan Sakuntanaga. “This new arrangement will allow stakeholders in the region to enjoy expedited patent application for the protection of their innovation. The exchanges of examiners would also allow both countries to forge stronger friendship and deeper understanding of our respective IP processes.”

Steady Progress Made In ASEAN’s IP Cooperation

This development complements ongoing regional patent work-sharing efforts through an arrangement known as ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC). With the sharing of patent examination information between IP Offices of ASEAN, businesses with regional footprints could expect to save time and cost when they file their patent in ASEAN. Since its launch three years ago, 80% of applicants who leveraged on ASPEC received a first office action within nine months, compared to a wait time of between two to seven years previously.

IPOS’ new appointment as an International Authority will allow IPOS to deliver certified services to patent applicants from participating countries. Applicants will benefit from the ease of application and enjoy cost savings of around SGD 1,500 (or up to 75% in rebates on PCT filing fees).

The ASEAN economic integration plan has spurred innovation activities across the region. PCT patent filings originating in ASEAN are increasing and have nearly tripled in the past decade.4 Demand for PCT services in ASEAN is expected to grow at 10% per annum. This will be higher than the estimated global growth rate of 3%.5 By facilitating growth through efficient patent protection processes, Singapore will play a contributing role in building an economically competitive ASEAN under the new ASEAN Economic Community plan.

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