Singapore - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property

Provides advice on IPR protection. including information on the registration of patents and trademarks

Last published date: 2021-08-13

Singapore maintains one of the strongest intellectual property rights regimes in Asia. However, some concerns remain in certain areas such as business software piracy, online piracy, and enforcement. 

Effective January 1, 2020, all patent applications must be fully examined by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) to ensure that any foreign-granted patents fully satisfy Singapore’s patentability criteria.  The Registered Designs (Amendment) Act broadens the scope of registered designs to include virtual designs and color as a design feature and will stipulate the default owner of designs to be the designer of a commissioned design, rather than the commissioning party.

The U.S. Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA) ensures that government agencies will not grant regulatory approvals to patent- infringing products, but Singapore does allow parallel imports.  Under the Patents Act, with regards to pharmaceutical products, the patent owner has the right to bring an action to stop an importer of “grey market goods” from importing the patent owner’s patented product, provided that the product has not previously been sold or distributed in Singapore, the importation results in a breach of contract between the proprietor of the patent and any person licensed by the proprietor of the patent to distribute the product outside Singapore and the importer has knowledge of such. 

The USSFTA ensures protection of test data and trade secrets submitted to the government for regulatory approval purposes.  Disclosure of such information is prohibited.  Such data may not be used for approval of the same or similar products without the consent of the party who submitted the data for a period of five years from the date of approval of the pharmaceutical product and 10 years from the date of approval of an agricultural chemical.  Singapore has no specific legislation concerning protection of trade secrets.  Instead, it protects investors’ commercially valuable proprietary information under common law by the Law of Confidence as well as legislation such as the Penal Code (e.g., theft) and the Computer Misuse Act (e.g., unauthorized access to a computer system to download information).  U.S. industry has expressed concern that this provision is inadequate.

As a WTO member, Singapore is party to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  It is a signatory to other international intellectual property rights agreements, including the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Madrid Protocol, and the Budapest Treaty.  The WIPO Secretariat opened a regional office in Singapore in 2005.  Amendments to the Trademark Act, which were passed in January 2007, fulfilled Singapore’s obligations in WIPO’s revised Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks.

Singapore ranked 11th out of 53 in the world in the 2020 U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International Intellectual Property (IP) Index.  The index noted that Singapore’s key strengths include an advanced national IP framework and efforts to accelerate research, patent examination, and grants.  The index also lauded Singapore as a global leader in patent protection and online copyright enforcement.  Despite a decrease in estimated software piracy from 35 percent in 2009 to 27 percent in 2020, the index noted that piracy levels remain high for a developed, high-income country.  Lack of transparency and data on customs seizures of IP-infringing goods is also noted as a key area of weakness.

Singapore does not publicly report the statistics on seizures of counterfeit goods and does not rate highly on enforcement of physical counterfeit goods, online sales of counterfeit goods or digital online piracy, according to the 2018 U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International IP Index. Singapore is not listed in USTR’s 2020 Special 301 Report, but some Singapore-based online retailers are named in USTR’s 2019 Review of Notorious Markets.  For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, (WIPO’s country profiles.)

In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.

IP Contact in Southeast Asian region

Name: Ms. Kitisri Sukhapinda, IP Attaché

Office of Regional IP Attaché for Southeast Asia

Address: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Room 302,

GPF Witthayu Tower A, 93/1 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

Telephone: (662) 205-5913

E-mail: kitisri.sukhapinda@trade.gov

For more information, contact ITA’s Office of Intellectual Property Rights Director, Stevan Mitchell at Stevan.Mitchell@trade.gov.