IPOS readies new initiatives to aid businesses during pandemic
04 September 2020
On the opening day of IP Week @ SG 2020 on August 25, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong announced that the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is putting out more initiatives to aid enterprises in maximizing their intellectual property assets to grow their business and survive the pandemic.
One of these initiatives is SG IP FAST, an enhancement of SG Patent Fast Track. Launched in April 2020, SG Patent Fast Track speeds up grants of patent applications from two years or more to just six months.
SG IP FAST builds up on this earlier initiative by including trademarks and registered designs. Hence, applicants for trademarks and designs can also look forward to an accelerated registration process.
IPOS is also enhancing the features of IPOS GO, a mobile app for trademark applications. Among others, IPOS GO’s renewal feature will eventually cover patents and registered designs. It will also conveniently maintain all registered IP in one mobile platform. Another app feature will also enable a single search to spot similar business names, trademarks, domain names and social media account names.
Additionally, IPOS will implement capacity-building activities for Singapore’s fresh law graduates and those planning to go into law. These initiatives are under a Young IP Mediator programme which aims to scale up experience in IP mediation among the youth to encourage more disputes for mediation.
“These initiatives make it easier for businesses to clear new brands and obtain IP protection. Increased speed in registration is vital as speed of innovation increases. It is important for businesses to be nimble in protecting their IP, especially in this digital age,” said Winnie Tham, director of Amica Law in Singapore. “However, businesses should be aware that while there are useful IP tools available, it is still important to have an experienced IP practitioner advise businesses in how to protect and use their IP.”
Esther Wee, IP counsel at Harry Elias Partnership in Singapore, said these initiatives help shift mindsets. But the business owners themselves still play an important role.
“These initiatives including the various sector-focused webinar series and collaboration with the Singapore Business Federation will help equip business owners with the knowledge they need to identify new business opportunities and leverage on their IP assets to do so. These may also assist to spark new business and management ideas for business owners and encourage them to ‘think outside the box’ in implementing their business model and strategies using IP,” said Wee.
She cited one particular inter-agency initiative held during IP Week – the GRIT series or the “Growing with Resilience through InTangibles series of webinars.
“Since face-to-face interactions are very limited and allowed only on a small scale, the ‘GRIT’ initiative involving helpful webinars and insights on relevant sectors would be most effective and urgent as then, specific IP issues and information tailored to a specific sector can be addressed and discussed in further detail and bring the community in the specific industry closer together to inspire and learn from one another,” said Wee. “This would also provide hope and inspiration to sectors most severely affected by the pandemic such as the tourism industry.”
Meanwhile, the IPOS Innovation for Humanity Award honored seven companies for their efforts in creating designs and products that help in the fight against the novel coronavirus Covid-19. These include test kits, a disinfecting solution, mobile laboratory, swab booth for mass screening and a design for face masks, among others. Tong made special mention of two of the awardees in his welcome address, precision oncology firm Lucence Diagnostics and cleaning solutions company Spic & Span.
“This strengthens their branding and reputation in the market and the goodwill generated from the award is invaluable in building up the value of the company,” said Tham. “It will certainly incentivize other companies to focus on products which are beneficial for society and humanity and spur them to develop valuable IP.”
According to Wee, not only are these companies using their IP assets so their business can thrive during the pandemic; they are also doing their share in the fight against Covid-19.
“Businesses today must think beyond ‘surviving’ this pandemic and instead upskill, innovate and leverage on their existing resources to continue growing and staying in the game,” said Wee.
Espie Angelica A. de Leon