Singapore as Asia’s IP Hub
Global appreciation of the importance and value of intellectual property (IP) has risen significantly in the past decade. From 2000 to 2010, global patent and trade mark filings increased by 45 and 40 per cent respectively. Global royalty and licensing revenue has more than doubled to over US$200 billion. The global economy has awakened to the impact of intellectual property as a key driver of economic growth. IP in Asia has also grown significantly. East Asia has overtaken North America and Western Europe in the number of international patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Poising itself to ride the wave of IP growth and establish itself as Asia’s IP hub, Singapore set up an IP Hub Steering Committee last year to formulate an IP Hub Masterplan to guide Singapore’s development in this area. In March 2013, the Committee submitted its recommendations to the Government, identifying three strategic aims for Singapore, namely:
- To be an international hub for IP transactions and management, so that companies will use Singapore as a base for regional and international IP transactions and manage their IP portfolio from Singapore.
- To be a hub for quality IP filings. Companies all over the world can tap on our IP service providers and infrastructure, using Singapore as a gateway to secure IP protection in key markets all over the world.
- To be the venue of choice for IP dispute resolution by leveraging on our efficient, cost-effective and high-quality judicial system and alternative dispute resolution methods.
To further these aims, the Committee has recommended that Singapore:
- Develop skilled IP professionals, networked to the region and beyond, to efficiently serve the international needs of companies.
- Build a conducive and progressive environment to encourage IP players worldwide to bring their IP activities to Singapore.
Even as the Committee sets the stage for further developments in the months ahead, efforts to nurture Singapore as a regional IP hub have in fact been steadily taking place since 2002. Some initiatives include:
- Establishing a specialized “IP Court” since 2002, formally designating specific judges as “IP judges” to hear complex IP cases.
- Establishing a national IP Academy in 2003 to provide professional IP training and graduate-level IP programmes, deepening IP skills and expertise across the IP value chain.
- Developing and enhancing the in-house search and examination capabilities of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.
- Enhancing the robustness of our patents registration system and liberalizing the patent agent sector.
- Enhancing the jurisdictional powers of the Copyright Tribunal in 2009.
- Establishing a collaboration framework with the World Intellectual Property Office’s (WIPO’s) Arbitration and Mediation Centre (AMC) in Singapore to enhance Singapore’s IP arbitration capabilities. The AMC was set up in 2010 and is WIPO’s only arbitration and mediation centre outside its Geneva headquarters.
- Tax incentives such as those under the Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme.
Singapore has also ensured that its IP legislative and enforcement framework accords, and is well-integrated, with the international stage. Singapore has long since been a signatory to major IP conventions such as the Berne Convention, Paris Convention, the Madrid Protocol, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the WIPO Convention and the Budapest Treaty, amongst others.
Singapore’s IP regime has received international recognition. Since 2006, it has consistently been ranked among the top five in the world by the World Economic Forum, and top ten by the Institute for Management Development. In 2010, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report ranked Singapore number three in the world for IP protection. In 2012, Singapore was ranked as Asia’s most innovative country according to the Global Innovation Index 2012 compiled by the INSEAD Business School in collaboration with WIPO.
The growth of IP in Singapore bears testimony to the thriving IP landscape. Patent filings have increased by 20 per cent since 2001 to almost 10,000 in 2011, while trade mark filings increased by 72 per cent over the same period to nearly 35,000 in 2011.
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