Public Consultation on Proposed Reforms to the Intellectual Property Dispute Resolution System
1. The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) launched a public consultation today to gather feedback on proposed reforms to the intellectual property (IP) dispute resolution system. The public consultation will run from 26 October to 30 November 2018.
2. The proposed reforms are based on the recommendations of the IP Dispute Resolution Committee (IPDR Committee), which was established in 2015 to review the IP dispute resolution system in Singapore. The objectives of the review were to:
a. enhance access to our IP dispute resolution system, particularly for individuals and SMEs; and
b. position Singapore as a choice venue for IP dispute resolution in Asia.
3. The proposed reforms further take into account the recommendations of the Civil Justice Commission and Civil Justice Review Committee, on the civil justice system in Singapore generally. These recommendations include:
a. implementing a default case management track with streamlined procedures, with options available for time- and cost-intensive procedures; and
b. enhancing judicial control over matters such as the number of factual witnesses, the necessity and scope of evidence to be adduced, and the manner in which evidence will be adduced.
Proposed IP Dispute Resolution Reforms
4. A time- and cost-effective system of IP dispute resolution is important for rights holders to effectively safeguard their intellectual creations, ensuring that incentives to innovate and create new works for the benefit of society remain. It also assures potential defendants that they can effectively and efficiently resolve disputes. This supports Singapore’s aim of being a knowledge- and innovation-driven economy.
5. To enhance access to our IP dispute resolution system, MinLaw proposes the following:
a. Consolidate most civil IP proceedings in the High Court. Currently, IP disputes are heard in the High Court, State Courts or Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), depending on the nature of the IP right, the type of proceeding or the value of the claim. Placing most of the IP cases in the High Court simplifies and makes clearer to users what the appropriate forum is.
b. Establish a “fast track” option for IP litigation. The “fast track” is intended for lower value disputes or where parties prefer the conduct of their case to be further expedited. This may be suitable for less well-resourced parties such as individuals and SMEs who may otherwise be unable to enforce their IP rights or defend themselves in litigation.
6. The proposed features of the “fast track” include the following:
a. A cap of 2 hearing days for trial.
b. A cap of $500,000 on the value of the claim.
c. Court’s discretion in key matters pertaining to the conduct of the case. The court will consider applications for matters such as disclosure of documents, witness affidavits, cross-examination, and written submissions. Generally, any material to be submitted has to be expressly allowed.
d. A staged-based cap on the party-and-party costs and disbursements awarded. There will be a cap on the maximum amount of party-and-party costs and disbursements recoverable, for each stage of proceeding. There will also be an overall cap of $50,000.
7. Where parties are of the view that the “fast track” would be unsuitable, they can opt to have their case placed on the “default track” where the case proceeds in the same manner as other types of civil disputes.
Invitation to Give Feedback
8. The public is invited to share their comments and feedback on the proposed reforms. The public consultation paper, together with the report of the IPDR Committee, can be found in Annex A and Annex B respectively.
9. All comments and feedback should be titled “IPDR public consultation comments” and submitted by 30 November 2018 via post or email to:
Intellectual Property Policy Division
Ministry of Law
100 High Street
#08-02 The Treasury
Email: [email protected]
 For more information, please see the Press Release on “Public Consultation on Proposed Reforms to the Civil Justice System” (26 Oct 2018).