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Singapore to offer world's fastest patent application-to-grant for AI inventions

INNOVATORS applying for artificial intelligence-related (AI) patents in Singapore can expect to have their applications granted within just six months, instead of a typical two years or more. 

This makes Singapore the fastest in the world to grant such applications, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) announced on Friday. 

"The Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence will strongly complement Singapore’s shift to a digital economy, and support innovative enterprises who need to bring their AI products faster to global markets," IPOS said. 

According to the government agency under the Ministry of Law, AI is the ability of a computer or system to interpret external data, to learn from it, and to use the learning to achieve specific tasks. AI inventions are commonly associated with, but not limited to, machine learning, IPOS added. 

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Among other criteria, the application must be an AI invention, first filed in Singapore, and contain 20 or fewer claims. 

Following a 2017 report by Accenture Research and Frontier Economics, AI could potentially double Singapore’s annual economic growth rates from 3.2 per cent to 5.4 per cent by 2035.

IPOS noted that the global AI industry is forecast to be worth some US$190 billion by 2025, with a compounded annual growth rate of 37 per cent, from 2017 to 2025.

It added that the huge interest in AI is most evident from patenting activities worldwide. More than 180,000 inventions relating to AI were published globally between 2008 to 2017, with an annual growth rate of over 20 per cent in the last five years, according to research by the Infocomm Media Development Authority. 

Daren Tang, chief executive of IPOS, said: "AI has become one of the biggest drivers of technological and societal change in the world, and it will increasingly underpin Singapore’s drive to build a digital economy. The Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence will give AI innovators protection for their inventions much faster than usual, and underscores Singapore’s commitment to helping AI innovations move quickly to the market.

"This initiative will also be extended to AI innovators outside of Singapore, and will allow them to use Singapore as a base to access markets of their interest speedily. This will reinforce Singapore as an IP hub for cutting-edge technologies."

Separately, IPOS also noted that the drive towards AI is gaining momentum within the government with a five-year Digital Government Blueprint launched last year for ministries and agencies to adopt one AI project by 2023.

IPOS added: "Companies in Singapore have also taken a proactive stance towards AI. Fifty per cent of businesses in telecom, insurance, finance, IT and retail have adopted AI solutions, with the remaining 30 per cent indicating that they will do so by mid of this year."