Singapore’s IP Strategy 2030: Towards Greater Interconnectivity
Yvonne Tang, Drew & Napier LLC (Singapore)
Intangible assets (“IA”) and intellectual property (“IP”) have become core components in today’s global economy. As such, it is important for Singapore to adopt an international perspective in establishing its approach to IA/IP. As such, the unveiling of the Singapore IP Strategy 2030 (“SIPS”) marks Singapore’s commitment to strengthening its position as a burgeoning global intangible asset (“IA”) and intellectual property (“IP”) Hub. The strategy builds upon the 2013 IP Hub Master Plan (“IHMP”) which has established a strong foundation for our IA/IP regime.
This article discusses key aspects of Singapore’s IA/IP strategy that enhances the interconnectivity of IA/IP regimes at a regional and global level. It also examines how building national capacity can enable Singapore to strengthen this cause.
At a regional level, Singapore seeks to position itself as a node for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (“ASEAN”). The ASEAN economy has seen growth at a tremendous rate and is expected to be the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030 (based on “The Future of Consumption in ASEAN”, The ASEAN Post, 4 November 2020). This vibrant development is supported by international trade and foreign direct investments which means that a cohesive and well-integrated ASEAN economic community with strong IA/IP practices is vital to sustain it. In order to facilitate deeper economic integration and interoperability within ASEAN, Singapore has adopted several measures including The Patent Prosecution Highway (“PPH”), the ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation (“ASPEC”) and the ASEAN Working Group on IP Cooperation (“AWGIPC”) amongst other means. Singapore has formed PPH arrangements with key international IP markets and continues to grow the PPH by expanding the work-sharing network into other markets. ASPEC is another example of a work-sharing initiative, led by Singapore which facilitates the patent application processes between member states. The AWGIPC serves as the platform for ASEAN IP leaders to improve the region’s IP framework.
These initiatives overcome the challenges and limitations posed by the territorial nature of IP rights and help support businesses in their internationalisation efforts. Furthermore, cooperation between states in the region strengthens comity which ultimately allows Singapore to be more deeply connected with the rest of the world.
On an international level, the uneven IA/IP valuation standards and practices across countries hamper the ability for businesses to expand. These standards are largely homogenous in content and differ in areas such as extent of binding, scope, depth and objectives. As such, as part of the SIPS initiative to attract and grow innovative enterprises using IA/IP, Singapore intends to spearhead an international IA/IP valuation panel. The panel will comprise representatives from various national Valuation Professional Organisations from different countries. Additionally, Singapore intends to establish IA/IP valuation practice standards and guidelines which it will work with regional and international organisations to promulgate across the various jurisdictions.
Since the introduction of the IHMP which pushed for the recognition of the importance of IP financing in growing businesses, financial institutions have changed their perspective towards IP financing from that of apprehension to that of necessity. Therefore, this strategy creates a common, efficient and reliable language to assess the value of IA/IP which is essential to support our rapidly and internationally expanding business infrastructure.
Furthermore, the SIPS aims to grow international IP dispute resolution in Singapore. In order to do so, it builds our dispute resolution capabilities by strengthening training and professional development as well as marketing Singapore’s IP dispute resolution services internationally. For example, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) is working with law schools to integrate IP into its teaching curriculum and is exploring the possibility of developing specialised IP courses with training providers to develop a deep pool of professionals with skills and knowledge to handle IP matters. Additionally, it aims to make Singapore IP court judgements more accessible through development of an information portal where interested parties are efficiently directed to the relevant information.
Overall, these measures foster trust in the quality of IP services provided in Singapore and assurance for businesses that upon any contingency, a comprehensive suite of dispute resolution alternatives will be available to them.
Enhancing national capabilities
In order to support the efforts of strengthening Singapore’s position as a global hub for IA/IP, the SIPS focuses on developing Singapore’s national competencies to ensure that it provides high quality IA/IP skills and services. To this end, the SIPS pursues measures including developing a pool of accredited IA/IP valuation professionals in Singapore, nurturing an IA/IP savvy workforce and developing national standards for IA/IP management.
The impact of these measures is three-fold. First, by enabling local infrastructure to be able to effectively manage and value IA/IP, Singapore’s workforce can capitalise on such skills and knowledge for business growth. Second, in the long term, this bolsters confidence and a strong reputation for the provision of quality IA/IP skills and services worldwide. Third, Singapore’s status as a growing global IA/IP hub lends credibility to possible cross-border initiatives in the future.
In order to remain at the forefront of a constantly evolving and innovation-driven economy, Singapore must continuously adapt and improve its IA/IP strategy. The SIPS represents such an endeavour, and it is hoped that even amidst the pandemic, Singapore’s robust IP regime will continue to flourish.