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Singapore unveils intellectual property initiatives to support Asean Industry 4.0

THE Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has announced a series of initiatives to support Asean’s Industry 4.0 development.

In addition, IPOS signed six memoranda of understanding (MOU) and partnership agreements with various stakeholders to further Singapore’s networks with global innovation communities, the government agency said on Wednesday.

In a collective effort to boost the flow of innovation into the region, IPOS, along with eight other intellectual property (IP) offices in Asean, will also launch a new initiative to expedite Industry 4.0 patent applications – placing priority on “key emerging technologies” such as fintech, cybersecurity and robotics patent applications.

The pilot project will run for two years starting Aug 27, and will allow businesses and innovators to see a six-month turnaround time under the new initiative called ASPEC Acceleration for Industry 4.0 Infrastructure and Manufacturing (ASPEC-AIM).

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ASPEC refers to the Asean Patent Examination Cooperation, a regional work-sharing programme which reduces the cost and waiting time to obtain a patent in an Asean country.

The other eight participating markets are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

All nine participating Asean IP offices have also agreed to broaden the scope of ASPEC to include patent cooperation treaty reports (PCT) under a new initiative called the PCT-ASPEC. This initiative will run for a pilot of three years starting on Aug 27.

This initiative allows patent applicants the option to use their PCT reports from an Asean International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) to accelerate their patent applications in another Asean country.

ISAs and IPEAs are appointed international authorities that carry out international search and international preliminary examinations. Currently, Singapore and the Philippines are among the 23 IP offices around the world appointed as ISAs and IPEAs.

In the same announcement, IPOS said that it has approved in record time an artificial intelligence (AI) patent for e-commerce giant Alibaba Group in three months, compared with an average of two to four years. This fell under IPOS’s Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence.

Along with its newly set up industry engagement arm IPOS International, IPOS struck several MOUs during the two-day IP Week @ SG 2019 conference.

This includes an MOU with the UK Intellectual Property Office to establish a broad framework for both offices to explore cooperation in IP protection, commercialisation and utilisation.

Another MOU is with Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property to promote the facilitation of innovative enterprises from both countries, as well as collaborative agreements such as the pilot patent prosecution highway (PPH).

It also signed an MOU with the Qatar Free Zones Authority to support bilateral economic engagements through the sharing of best practices and knowledge on IA and IP management.

Meanwhile, IPOS International and IPR Daily have also agreed to develop cooperation activities such as seminars and training programmes for Chinese enterprises to promote and increase their knowledge and capabilities in IP protection, commercialisation and management.

Other agreements include an implementation work plan with the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam and the extension of the PPH with China’s National IP Administration until Aug 31, 2021.

Daren Tang, IPOS chief executive, said: "We hope that our new initiatives and partnerships will allow us to bring further value to global innovation flows, strengthen our position as one of the hubs for these flows, and ultimately help drive future growth for our economy and the region."