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Singapore keeps top spot in Asia for protection of intellectual property rights

SINGAPORE topped Asia again while moving up a notch to fourth place overall among 129 countries ranked for how strongly they protect intellectual property (IP) rights.

The Republic comes in behind other IP powerhouses such as Finland (1st), Switzerland (2nd) and New Zealand (3rd), according to this year's International Property Rights Index (IPRI), released on Friday.

It was ahead of Australia and Japan, which ranked fifth and sixth respectively. The US moved up two spots to 12th place, while the UK slipped two spots to 15th place. 

Developed by US-based Property Rights Alliance, the index serves as a barometer for the strength of protection across physical and intellectual property. 

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It is determined using data from official sources across various international organisations, together with case studies compiled across 118 think-tanks and policy organisations in 72 countries.

The index placed Singapore among the top countries under the three core categories: physical property rights; IP rights and the legal and political environment to enforce these rights.

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), which released the report on the latest IPRI, said it continues to innovate and support enterprises to use IP in a bid to grow further. 

For instance, it recently launched the world's first trademark registration mobile app that reduces the time taken to file a trademark by 80 per cent, and utilises AI (artificial intelligence) technology in image search during the registration process.

IPOS, which is a government agency under the Ministry of Law, also announced new initiatives in partnership with eight other Asean IP offices to expedite patent applications in key emerging technologies such as fintech, cybersecurity and robotics.

In addition, an accelerated programme known as the IPOS Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), also saw its first use case, with an international firm granted an AI patent in three months, compared to an average of two to four years, IPOS noted.

"These initiatives are part of IPOS' efforts to catalyse the growth of innovative enterprises, industries and the economy through IP and intangible assets," the agency added.

Daren Tang, chief executive of IPOS said: "It is an honour to be recognised as a leading country in the protection of property rights. Societies and economies are becoming more interconnected in the new digital world, where growth and development are driven by IP and intangible assets.

"This accolade will bolster confidence for innovative enterprises to continue to use Singapore as a hub to manage, grow and deploy their IP and intangible assets into the region and beyond."