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Tweaks to tighten Singapore's patents law read in Parliament

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CHANGES to the Patents (Amendment) Bill to enhance the quality of patents approved and make the rules more user-friendly have been tabled in Parliament for the first time.

CHANGES to the Patents (Amendment) Bill to enhance the quality of patents approved and make the rules more user-friendly have been tabled in Parliament for the first time.

Under the revised Bill, before a patent is granted, all applications will be fully examined by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) to ensure the inventions meet all of Singapore's standards.

Patent applications through the foreign route will cease on Jan 1, 2020, which will align the patent regime here with that of the United States, Japan and Korea.

This will mean that patent applications will only go through two routes - local and mixed.

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Under the local route, assessment of whether an invention qualifies for patent protection, or search and examination (S&E), is conducted by IPOS. Under the mixed route, the search is carried out by a foreign office and IPOS conducts the examination.

The scrapping of the foreign route comes as granted patents under this option may not fully satisfy Singapore's patentability standards.

This, as existing patent applicants can submit an examination report issued by a foreign patent office for the same invention. IPOS then conducts a simplified examination but this does not cover requirements of novelty, inventiveness and industrial application.

Another key feature of the new Bill is the broadening of the grace period provision that will raise chances of an invention being eligible for patent protection.

Currently, public disclosures are disregarded under very limited circumstances such as the disclosure as a result of a breach of confidence or that the invention was displayed at an international exhibition.

Under the amended Bill, the circumstances will be broadened to include any disclosure by the inventor or an individual who obtained the matter from the inventor.

That said, inventors are strongly encouraged to continue to avoid disclosing their inventions before applying for a patent, as it may jeopardise patent protection in other jurisdictions.

The developments come following an IPOS public consultation on the proposed amendments that took place in October and November last year. IPOS received feedback from the Law Society, patent agent associations and the Singapore Inventors' Development Association.

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