IP as new growth area: Government accepts IP Hub Master Plan recommendations; rolls out initiatives to develop Singapore as a global IP hub in Asia
1. Intellectual property (IP) has become a key driver of economic growth globally. There is a rise in patent and trademark filings worldwide, especially within Asia. Global royalty and licensing revenue has also risen significantly. Against the backdrop of the increasing importance of IP in the knowledge economy, the Government has identified IP as a new growth area for Singapore. We see a window of opportunity to develop Singapore as an IP hub with a vibrant IP industry sector that will help to grow our economy further, and create opportunities for Singaporeans and Singapore companies.
2. To this end, the Government convened the IP Steering Committee, chaired by Mr Teo Ming Kian, Chairman of MediaCorp Pte Ltd, in May 2012 to formulate the Master Plan to guide Singapore’s development into a global IP hub in Asia. More than 200 IP professionals from over 100 local and foreign companies and organisations were consulted. The Master Plan was formally submitted to the Government in early March 2013, and the Government has accepted the recommendations made by the Committee.
Recommendations by the Committee
3. The Master Plan is a 10-year plan which sets out the vision of Singapore as a global IP hub in Asia. It identifies three strategic outcomes that Singapore should work towards, and two supporting enablers that are essential to achieve them:
Singapore should aim to be a hub for:
- IP transactions and management, where companies use Singapore as a base to manage and transact IP internationally;
- Quality IP filings, where companies register their IP in Singapore, utilise our IP services and infrastructure, and leverage Singapore as a gateway to secure IP protection in key markets all over the world; and
- IP dispute resolution, where IP disputes are brought to Singapore for expeditious and effective resolution through litigation or alternative dispute resolution.
To achieve these outcomes, Singapore should develop:
- Skilled manpower resources networked to the region and beyond, to effectively serve the international needs of companies; and
- A conducive and progressive environment for IP activities, to strengthen international acclaim of Singapore as a vibrant IP hub and establish Singapore as a thought leader in IP.
4. The IP Hub Master Plan report is available here.
5. Singapore’s development as a global IP hub in Asia will create high value job opportunities for Singaporeans and generate benefits for the legal and IP service sectors, as well as IP owners. These include:
- A greater demand for services from the legal and IP service sectors (e.g. law firms, patent firms, IP intermediaries, IP valuation firms);
- Greater job opportunities for Singaporeans, such as IP strategists, IP valuation analysts, IP lawyers, and patent agents. These professionals can look forward to more continuing professional development training to acquire new value-added skills; and
- Greater availability of services and avenues for IP owners, such as our SMEs, to protect, manage and maximise value from their IP assets.
Initiatives to be rolled out
6. To follow up on the Committee’s recommendations, the Government and industry partners will be rolling out several initiatives in the near term. These are aimed at developing our IP infrastructure and skilled manpower, and enhancing the current slate of services offered. At the same time, they will help attract top IP firms and owners to transact and manage their IP in Singapore.
7. The initiatives are set out in the table below:
OUTCOME / ENABLER
A hub for IP transactions and management
Develop a vibrant IP marketplace by attracting top IP intermediaries, and supporting promising initiatives to catalyse the development of the marketplace
1. An Economic Development Board (EDB)-MinLaw Joint Programme Office will be set up to develop the IP and legal sectors. It will seek to promote quality IP marketplace players such as IP owners and service providers to Singapore.
Facilitate IP transactions by increasing access to IP financing, and enhancing transparency and certainty in IP transactions
2. The Government will introduce an IP financing scheme, where it partially underwrites the value of patents used as collateral in event of default. The intention is to encourage banks to recognise IP as an asset class, build IP financing capabilities among our financial institutions, and allow IP-rich companies to raise capital more easily using their IP assets.
3. Financial institutions undertaking IP financing-related courses (such as IP valuation) may be eligible for support under the Financial Training Scheme administered by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
4. The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) will establish a new Centre of Excellence for IP Valuation, which will work with industry stakeholders to undertake a range of activities, including research on IP valuation methodologies, training and certification for IP valuation professionals, and establishing industry-wide best practices.
5. The Singapore Exchange (SGX) will encourage listed companies to disclose their IP rights. A clear and structured disclosure of IP rights of material importance can provide investors with better insights into the company’s strengths and potential growth.
A hub for quality IP filings
Create a strong value proposition to attract IP filings by offering world-class services, and strengthening international collaborations with other IP offices
6. IPOS will invest $50 million to build up patent search and examination (S&E) capabilities in technology areas of strategic importance to Singapore. This will draw companies to register IP in Singapore. IPOS has started its S&E team in September 2012, and will be expanding this team progressively. The team is expected to be operational in mid-2013, after completing training by the European and Japan Patent Offices.
7. IPOS will forge stronger cooperation with other national IP offices, and establish a comprehensive network of Patent Prosecution Highways (PPHs) 1 building on our existing network with the US, Japan and South Korea. A strong network of PPHs will allow applicants to expedite the patent filing process in other jurisdictions from Singapore.
A hub for IP dispute resolution
Develop Singapore as a choice venue for IP dispute resolution, through a strong IP Court and deep IP alternative dispute resolution capabilities
8. The Supreme Court is establishing a specialised docket system for all cases. For the IP Court, in addition to the current practice of assigning an assistant registrar to each IP case after it is filed, an IP Judge will also be assigned earlier. This will allow judges of the IP Court to build greater familiarity with IP cases and enhance the efficiency of case disposal. To support the IP Court’s adjudication functions, the Supreme Court will promote the use of assessors (for technical expertise) and amicus curiae (for legal expertise).
9. MinLaw will work with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) to establish a panel of top international IP arbitrators in Singapore. This will enhance the international profile of Singapore’s IP alternative dispute resolution capabilities and attract such cases to Singapore.
10. IPOS will collaborate with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Arbitration and Mediation Centre (WIPO AMC) to offer parties in patent disputes a new expert determination 2 option. This option allows parties to select a trusted third party expert with the relevant expertise and experience from WIPO AMC’s panel, and will be implemented by Q2 2013. Benefits of this option include cost and time savings, as well as autonomy in the selection of their arbiter.
Skilled manpower resources networked to the region and beyond
Build a globally competitive IP workforce that is equipped with specialised IP skill sets and networked to other markets, and support the continued professional development of IP professionals
11. IPOS will launch the IP Competency Framework (IPCF) to define the competencies required for key IP job roles in the industry, accredit training providers and their programmes offered under the framework, and to certify the attainment of these competencies into industry-recognised qualifications. 45 competency units under the IPCF will be rolled out in April 2013.
12. IPOS will invest $15 million to strengthen IP Academy to be the central agency to orchestrate the delivery of IP education and training for Singapore.
A conducive and progressive environment for IP activities
Enhance the tax environment to attract and anchor IP portfolios and substantive management activities
13. The Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme, introduced by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and administered by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), covers activities such as the acquisition and registration of IP. From years of assessment 2013 to 2015, the scheme will be enhanced to include IP in-licensing for innovation or productivity improvements.
Nurture a progressive environment that shapes and promotes IP thought leadership, and builds international perception
14. We will leverage flagship events to create a nexus for the exchange of views among the international IP community. Examples include the Global Forum on IP and the IP Business Congress Asia Conference which Singapore will host in 2013.
8. With the emerging global IP landscape, MinLaw believes that the Master Plan will generate opportunities for Singapore to position itself as a global IP hub for IP transactions and management, quality IP filings and IP dispute resolution. We continue to welcome views that will help Singapore in this next phase of development.