The Intellectual Property Rights Index 2019 (IPRI) has ranked Singapore as the fourth best country globally for protection of intellectual property rights, and the best in Asia. Singapore has been ranked higher than traditional Asian intellectual property (IP) powerhouses, Japan, South Korea, and the current IP-filings volume king, China.
How did Singapore rise to the top for protection of IP rights in Asia?
The IPRI is published annually by the US-based Property Rights Alliance and serves to indicate protection parameters across physical and intellectual property. The Property Rights Alliance obtained data and considered case studies from various international organisations, including think-tanks and policy organisations from different countries.
The scope of IPRI’s findings encompasses 93.83% of the world population, and 97.72% of the world GDP. In addition, the IPRI defines the protection of IP rights in accordance with three components, namely:
- Physical property rights;
- IP rights; and
- Legal and political environment to enforce these rights.
In this regard, the IPRI provides a snapshot of not only legal systems of a particular country, but acts as a barometer for the status of property rights in the country. Based on the latest findings, IPRI 2019 has ranked Singapore one position higher compared to IPRI 2018.
The Singapore government is in the midst of transforming the local economy, and has focused on innovation through substantial financial investment to drive future growth for the country. This focus on innovation has led to an increasing awareness of IP rights throughout all levels of businesses, from small-medium enterprises to local subsidiaries of multi-national corporations.
In addition, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is no longer merely the national registry of IP rights. Instead, IPOS has positioned themselves in the forefront of this national drive as an innovation agency, and has implemented several initiatives to bolster the protection of IP rights in Singapore. For example, they have implemented an expedited process for AI-related patent applications, formed partnerships with other ASEAN IP offices to expedite patent applications for “in-demand” areas including but not limited to fintech, cyber security, robotics, and established the world’s first trademark registration mobile app which uses AI in image search during the registration process.
Furthermore, with an eye on future growth of contentious patent matters in Singapore, the Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Act came into force on 21 November 2019, in accordance with the government’s desire to put in place cost-saving features and simplified processes to streamline the IP dispute resolution process in Singapore.
In addition, the current Chief Executive of IPOS, Mr Daren Tang, has been nominated to be the next Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) once the current Director General of WIPO, Mr Francis Gurry, steps down from his position on 30 September 2020. If Mr Tang is successful in becoming the next Director General of WIPO, it will be a certainty that the IP ecosystem in Singapore will flourish even more.
Thus, it appears that Singapore has maintained its position as the best country in Asia for the protection of IP rights with a combination of a long term innovation-centric approaches for growing the economy, and having an evolving IP registration system which varies in accordance with technological trends whilst maintaining consistency and transparency in the protection of IP assets.