Singapore – Implementation of Free Trade Agreement with The United States
Legislation to implement the Intellectual Property Law provisions of last year’s free trade agreement between the United States and Singapore went into effect on July 1, 2004. The main features are as follows:
- In general under Section 66(g)(2) of Singapore’s patent law it is not an infringement of a Singapore patent to import into Singapore a product that has been produced elsewhere by the patentee or with its consent, even if this consent is conditional. The new law implementing the Free Trade Agreement provides derogation from this broad principle for patented pharmaceutical products that have not been sold or distributed in Singapore.
- A limited exception from patent infringement is provided for testing of a pharmaceutical prior to the expiration of a patent covering it when this testing is needed to obtain marketing approval for a generic version of the pharmaceutical.
- Patent Term extension will be possible where there has been unreasonable delay in the grant of a patent in Singapore or where there have been delays in securing marketing approval for a pharmaceutical product.
- There are some modifications in patent prosecution procedure so that the applicant may now be able to delay paying the grant fees up to sixty months from the priority date. Since Singapore operates on an “honor system” having regard to the grant of patents, but there may be difficulties later if one knowingly allows an invalid application to go to grant, this extension of the term for paying the grant fees may make it easier to wait for the grant of a corresponding European Patent before finalizing ones claims in Singapore, which should help to address any concerns as to whether one knowingly obtained grant of an invalid patent.
- Protection is to be provided for “non-visually perceptible” trademarks and service marks (i.e. sound marks and scent marks) as long as they can be represented graphically.
- Improved protection is to be given to famous marks that have not been registered in Singapore.
- A provision for statutory damages for infringement of a trademark is introduced and customs procedures to prevent import of counterfeit goods are modified to allow the customs authorities to act on their own initiative.
- The date on which renewal is to be effected is changed from the anniversary of the priority date to the anniversary of the filing date.
- The normal term for copyright protection is changed from life of the author plus fifty years to life of the author plus seventy years.
Plant Variety Right
- Plant Variety Right protection is introduced in compliance with the 1991 version of the UPOV Convention.