Patents of Invention
– Patents Act 1994, as amended, for all patents filed from February 23, 1995.
– Patents Rules 1995, as amended, in effect from February 23, 1995.
Membership in International Conventions
– Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since December 10, 1990.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since January 1, 1995.
– Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Stockholm Act, since February 23, 1995.
– Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), since February 23, 1995.
– Budapest Treaty on the Protection of Microorganisms, since February 23, 1995.
– The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille), as of September 16, 2021.
Filing and Examination
Applications filed before February 14, 2014: Singapore has introduced its own patent registration system since February 25, 1995. Patent applications may be filed domestically or through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Novelty: an invention must not be disclosed publicly in any way any where before the priority date claimed.
Inventive step: an invention is regarded as having an inventive step, if and when compared to what is already known, it would not be obvious to an ordinary person skilled in the art of the given field and must not be anticipated by prior written art.
Exempted disclosure: at an international exhibition named under the Patents Act or where the disclosure was by reason or in consequence of an abuse of the rights of the owner or his predecessor. With effect from October 30, 2017 an applicant may request that the prior disclosure of his invention be excused at the time of (1) filing a Request for Search and Examination; or (2) when a Request for Examination is filed; or (3) when filing a Response to a Written Opinion; or (4) when filing a Request for Review of an Examination Report or Search and Examination Report. The request for excuse must be accompanied by written evidence in the form of a Statutory Declaration.
Not patentable: a method of treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and diagnostic methods practiced on the human or animal body.
Filing requirements for an application:
1. An application form to be completed and filed with the official filing fees;
2. The patent specification stating the title of the invention, a description of the invention and the claims;
3. Drawings where relevant. The drawings need to conform with the requirements stipulated under Rule 21;
4. An abstract not exceeding 150 words.
Note: all documents are to be filed in English.
Electronic filing: applications must be filed online.
PCT applications: for this purpose, the Singapore Patent Office is a PCT receiving Office as well as a Search and Examination authority. Time limit for entering national phase: under both Chapter I and Chapter II: 30 months.
Nationally filed applications: must be filed within twelve months from the earliest priority date.
Examination of application will be referred to the Austrian Patent Office, the Danish Patent Office or the Hungarian Patent Office. The Singapore Patent Office has begun conducting the searches and examinations themselves. The patent process must be completed within fifty-four months. A request for a search must be filed by the thirteenth month of the filing date and request for examination or request for search and examination by the thirty-sixth month. For applications filed before February 14, 2014 an applicant may apply for bulk extensions by the thirty-ninth month to extend the patent process to the sixtieth month from the filing date. By the thirty-ninth month a request for search and examination must also be filed, except where the applicant is relying on a foreign corresponding application as the basis for registration.
Applications filed on or after February 14, 2014: from February 14, 2014 Singapore introduced an important change from a “self-assessment” to a “positive grant” patent system. The self-assessment system allows patent applications to be granted regardless of the outcome of its examination report, that is, it need not comply fully with patentability criteria. All patent applications filed on or after February 14, 2014 will undergo positive examination procedure. All local, mixed and foreign prosecution route options will require a positive examination report to be issued. If all is clear, the Registrar will issue a Notice of Eligibility to proceed to grant. Applicants have two months to comply with all the formal requirements and file the prescribed documents for grant. During this period, no further amendments will be allowed. In the event the examination report raises objections and these objections are not overcome in the response, and the objections remain unresolved, the Registrar will issue a Notice of Intention to Refuse. The applicant may apply for review within two months from the date of the notice.
Review procedure: the applicant may file written submissions to overcome the objections and also amend the specification, if necessary. Amendments cannot be filed once the Request for Review Report is submitted. The Examiner will issue a Review Report once the review is completed. The Review Report may be accompanied with a Notice of Refusal or a Notice of Eligibility to proceed to grant.
One prosecution timeline: with these changes there is only one prosecution track and no longer a choice of fast or slow track for new applications filed on or after February 14, 2014. The time for completion of the prosecution process is fifty-four months from the earliest priority date declared (where claimed) or date of filing in Singapore.
Applications which rely on a foreign corresponding application for a corresponding patent in Canada (filed in English), Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, U.K., U.S.A., Australia and EPO (filed in English): under the new system, applicants must file a Request for Supplementary Examination Report, in addition to submitting the final results or grant of the foreign corresponding application. This is to ensure that the application is patentable under Singapore laws. A table of related claims, setting out how each claim in the application in suit is related to at least one claim in the corresponding application, so as to satisfy the criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability, must be submitted. The Supplementary Examination route was abolished from January 1, 2020. All applications filed on or after January 1, 2020 will proceed under the Search and Examination route. After the search and examination process, an examination report will be issued. A Notice of Eligibility to proceed to grant will be issued where there are no unresolved objections in the examination report. The Notice of Eligibility will entitle the applicant to proceed to request for grant.
Post-grant search and examination: the provisions relating to post-grant search and examination are removed. This will not affect requests made for post-grant search and examination filed before February 14, 2014.
Duration: all patents granted are valid for twenty years and are subject to annuities.
Annuities: accumulated annuities are due from the fourth year after filing of the application and are payable after the grant of the patent and thereafter before the expiry of each successive year. All annuity payments must be submitted online.
Supplementary protection for pharmaceuticals: supplementary protection of up to five years may be granted for a pharmaceutical product containing a patented active ingredient. It arises where there is a delay in obtaining marketing approval by the Health Sciences Authority and the marketing approval is obtained after the patent has been granted and when the period between filing for marketing approval and obtaining such approval exceeds two years or where there was unreasonable delay by the Registrar in granting the patent.
Assignment: must be recorded with the Patent Office.
Working: a compulsory license can be granted if a patent is not sufficiently worked after three years from the date of grant of the patent. An application for restoration of a lapsed patent may be made at any time within thirty months from its expiry, and must be supported with reasons. The Patents Registrar has discretion to allow the restoration, with or without conditions.