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ASEAN: Upcoming changes to Singapore’s patent and design systems

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According to press releases issued by the Ministry of Law, a new Patents (Amendment) Bill and Registered Designs (Amendment) Bill are currently under way.

The changes are aimed at increasing the quality of patents and making the system more user-friendly. Key amendments include the broadening of the grace period to include any prior disclosure of the invention by the inventor. Furthermore, the current "foreign examination route" will be closed from 1 January 2020 onwards. With this change, applicants will only be able to choose between the "local route" (combined search and examination at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore - IPOS) and the "mixed route" (examination based on a search report from a foreign patent office).

As for designs, the scope of registrable designs will be broadened to include virtual designs of non-physical products that can be projected onto any surface and have useful features. Colours as a design feature will also be included. The grace period provision will be broadened to include any disclosure made by the designer, and lengthened to 12 months.

In addition, amendments to the Patent (Patent Agent) Rules entered into force on 1 May 2017. These introduce new approved courses for the qualification of patent agents and changes to the requirements of patent agent registration for IPOS examiners. Further details on these and other planned changes can be found in the Legislation Updates section on the IPOS website.

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