Patents

A patent is a statutory right that confers on its owner an exclusive right to make, use, import or sell a product, or an exclusive right to use a process, which is the subject matter of the patent.

Many companies are built on the basis of a portfolio of patents which they rely on to keep competitors “off their turf”. Companies invest heavily in research and development to keep their patent portfolios relevant to their commercial objectives. Established companies may also be on the look-out for patents that are complementary to their existing patent portfolios and may acquire or license or enter into a joint-venture to jointly exploit the respective parties’ patent rights.

Patentable Inventions

For an invention to be patentable in Singapore, it must

  1. be novel,
  2. involve an inventive step, and
  3. be capable of industrial application.

Novelty and obviousness are assessed against the “state of the art” as at the date of a patent application (or relevant priority date as the case may be). Even disclosures by the inventor himself may constitute part of the “state of the art”. It is therefore critical to ensure that there is no disclosure of details of an invention, except under a strict condition of confidentiality, before a patent application is filed. Where disclosure is inevitable, for example to a potential investor who would finance the filing of patent applications, a lawyer may be engaged to prepare an appropriate Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and advise on steps that should be taken to safeguard the novelty of the invention before any disclosure is made. Even though Singapore has enacted legislation giving rise to statutorily prescribed grace periods between the time an invention is disclosed and when a patent application for the same is filed, such grace periods or the circumstances when they are applicable may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Registration

It is possible to obtain patent protection in Singapore by way of a Singapore national patent application or via a PCT application that enters the national phase in Singapore. Once a patent application has been filed the most cost-effective route to prosecute the patent application to grant is, in the case of a PCT application, to rely on the International Preliminary Report on Patentability (Chapter I or Chapter II). It is also possible to rely on the final prosecution results from corresponding applications, from any one of the prescribed countries – i.e., USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Europe (filed in English only), Canada (filed in English only), Japan or Korea – which are in a priority relationship with the patent application (i.e., they share the same priority claim, or one application claims priority of the other).

Product Marking

Products that are the subject of a patent or patent application should be clearly and accurately marked. Improper or inaccurate marking of products may lead to a loss of rights or more seriously, may even constitute an offence under the Patents Act.

Renewals

Generally your patent will be valid for 20 years from its filing date and it will need to be renewed annually. We can maintain and renew your patent registrations for you.

Enforcement

If another party makes, uses, imports or sells a product, or uses or offers for use a process, which is the subject matter of a patent without the authorisation of the patent owner, such acts may amount to infringement of the rights conferred by the patent. In such cases, whether your patent is the subject of infringing acts or whether you have been accused of infringing a patent, we can represent you in any such dispute resolution procedures.