Please note, IP registration and protection are complex, especially in an international context. It is recommended that you seek advice from an IP professional.
Singapore has a population of almost 5.5 million. Singapore is Australia's largest trade and investment partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and our fifth largest trading partner overall. While the official language is English, national languages are Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.
IP Protection in Singapore
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is responsible for the legislation and registration of IP in Singapore. Applications for patents, trade marks and designs can be made via the IPOS website, or manually submitted. Plant varieties protection applications can only be filed manually.
An address for service in Singapore and a local agent or attorney is generally required when seeking IP registration.
- Trade mark applications can be filed through IPOS or through the Madrid System for the international registration of trade marks.
- Like Australia, Singapore employs a “first to use” rule for obtaining trade mark rights, meaning that the first person to use a mark in Singapore will generally have superior rights to a person who files a trade mark application at a later date.
- Unregistered trade marks may in some cases be protected under common law in Singapore. However, a registered trade mark provides statutory protection which offers significant advantages in trade mark disputes.
- While the official language is English, there are a number of other languages that are used. Applicants using word elements in their trade marks may need to consider protecting translations and transliterations.
- Trade mark registrations may be removed if they are not used over a period of five or more consecutive years after registration.
- There are other circumstances under which a trade mark may be challenged, cancelled or removed. Please check the relevant requirements prior to application.
- A trade mark is valid for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely for further 10 year periods upon payment of fees.
- Applications may be filed with IPOS or can enter through national phase entry via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
- The standard patent is the only type of patent available in Singapore.
- IPOS is a participant of the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) pilot program. A request for accelerated examination of an IPOS patent application may be made relying on national work products or PCT work products.
- Patent protection is for up to 20 years from the date of filing.
- Applications may be made directly to IPOS.
- Protection is available for five years and can be renewed every five years up to a maximum of 15 years.
- Like Australia, copyright arises automatically at the time of creation of an eligible work.
- The term of protection varies depending on the type of work. In general, most published works are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years.
- Applications may be made directly to the Registry of Plant Varieties of IPOS.
- From 30 July 2014, Singapore has expanded the scope of the relevant legislation to include all genera and species. There are specific criteria that need to be met to obtain protection.
- Protection is granted for up to 25 years.
Enforcing your IP rights in Singapore
It is your responsibility to protect your IP. You should actively monitor the marketplace for any unauthorised use of your IP.
IP law is complex. If legal action is necessary, then you should consult a legal professional who specialises in IP law.
Doing business in Singapore
Before entering the business market in Singapore, there are a number of factors to take into account including culture, politics and business etiquette.
You can start by taking a look at the extensive information about doing business in Singapore on the Austrade website.
The Singapore Government is working towards transforming Singapore from an investment-driven economy to an innovation-driven economy. Singapore has a growing reputation as Southeast Asia’s premier startup launch pad and is home to one of Australia Unlimited’s Landing Pads. Its business and innovation-focused environment is home to around 3,600 tech startups. More information can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website.
- Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement
- IP Office of Singapore
- Madrid System
- Patent Cooperation Treaty
- Global Patent Prosecution Highway
- Australia Unlimited’s Landing Pads
- Export Council of Australia
- Professional advice -If you’re considering exporting to Singapore, it’s recommended that you contact an IP attorney to advice on local IP, customs and other laws regulating imports and trade in Singapore.