Written Answer by Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on Local SMEs Owning Intellectual Property Rights
1 Aug 2017 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Mr Leon Perera (Non-Constituency Member of Parliament)
To ask the Minister for Law (a) how many local SMEs own some form of intellectual property (IP); (b) how does this compare with the data from developed countries; and (c) what measures are in place to educate and support SMEs in respect of acquiring and enforcing IP.
As at July 2017, approximately 17,000 SMEs in Singapore (8% of all SMEs in Singapore) own Singapore-registered intellectual property (IP), like patents, trademarks, designs or plant variety protection. Many companies, including SMEs, also own IP in the form of copyright and trade secrets, which do not require registration. Companies can also own IP which are registered overseas for their overseas operations. Data on ownership of non-registrable IP and foreign IP are not available.
Generally, most developed countries do not track or publish the number of SMEs that own registered IP. However, in the EU, a 2015 Intellectual Property Rights and Firm Performance in Europe report showed that 9% of European SMEs own registered IP in the EU. This is slightly higher than in Singapore.
The Ministry of Law and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) recognise that our SMEs need assistance to understand and utilise IP to their advantage. We are working with other government agencies on several initiatives to assist our SMEs.
IPOS leverages trade and business associations to organise activities like IP and innovation seminars. Local enterprises can also sign up for IP and IP management courses run by IPOS’ training subsidiary, IP Academy. IPOS will be launching a business portal with guides and diagnostic toolkits on IP, to help SMEs understand their IP needs. In addition, IPOS’ subsidiary, IP ValueLab, provides local companies with subsidised one-on-one assistance for IP audit and IP strategy development. This effort is supported by SPRING Singapore.
SMEs can also obtain assistance in developing or acquiring IP. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (ASTAR) Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading programme attaches its researchers to SMEs to help them develop in-house R&D capabilities. Its Headstart programme enables SMEs to license ASTAR’s IP on preferential terms. To date, more than 650 researchers have been attached to SMEs and more than 60% of A*STAR’s licences are to SMEs. Further, the Intellectual Property Intermediary, a SPRING Singapore affiliate, assists SMEs to assess their technology gaps and helps them find the IP that they need.
IPOS also runs IP legal and business clinics for SMEs, where they can seek preliminary advice from IP experts and lawyers for free.
Last updated on 02 Aug 2017