Tim Lince

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has announced it is slashing trademark filing fees in an effort to “keep them competitive with other countries”, although trademark renewal fees are set to rise “to discourage IP hoarding”. The move comes at a time when IPOS chief executive, Daren Tang, is urging intellectual property offices to evolve beyond simply administrating an IP register.

The IPOS confirmed its new pricing structure will come into effect from April 1, and states that the changes are intended to “make IP protection more affordable” for businesses and innovators. The headline reduction relates to the cost of applying for a trademark using “a pre-approved list of goods and services”, which will fall by 30% (from $341 to $240 per class). Furthermore, the cost for international registrations (designating Singapore through the Madrid Protocol) falls slightly, from $374 to $341. The cost of surrendering/cancelling any form of IP will now incur zero cost (it was previously $30).

However, money saved in cheaper filing fees at the IPOS could be quickly eaten up by a steeper rise in renewal fees. The cost for renewing a trademark registration, per class, will rise by 52%, from $250 to $380. In its announcement explaining this particular change, the IPOS said it is intended “to discourage IP hoarding, which can stifle innovation” and gave the move a positive spin: “Overall, the fees adjustment will result in a net cost reduction for businesses and brand owners, when the various stages in the lifecycle of protecting an invention or a trademark are considered.”

To evidence that the new fees will be cost competitive over a typical trademark lifecycle, it included a table comparing the estimated lifecycle cost of a trademark registration across various jurisdictions (based on being renewed once).

 

Singapore

Korea

Japan

USA

UK

Australia

Trademark using pre-approved goods/services list

$620

-

-

$748

-

$700

Trademark not using pre-approved goods/services list

$721

$727

$982

$819

$652

$786


While this move addresses the office’s oversight of the register, IPOS is eyeing more ambitious changes – both for itself and for IP offices across the world.

In an exclusive feature in the next issue of World Trademark Review (which will be out next month), IPOS chief executive Daren Tang writes about the various ‘innovation promoting’ services the office has introduced in recent months and years. These include initiatives such as a mediation promotion scheme, introduced in March 2016, and its IP financing scheme to help Singapore-based IP-rich companies to monetise their IP, including trademarks, for business growth and expansion. It has also bolstered its digital offering to include various innovations – such as a search-as-you-type interface integrated into its online trademark application form.

While a boon for local rights holders, the IPOS boss is adamant that all IP offices should strive to capitalise on the opportunities presented by increased internet access and technological advancements. “IP offices need to innovate too if they are to remain relevant and useful to companies in today’s global innovation economy,” Tang says. “IP offices play a crucial role in the innovation ecosystem – as economies evolve, IP offices need to think about going beyond merely administrating registries to becoming innovation agencies. The challenge comes in translating their deep expertise in intellectual property into a broader skillset which can help government and industry to transform intellectual property into products and services.”

To provide an international comparison of office innovation, for the upcoming issue of World Trademark Review we conducted an ambitious research project to pinpoint the IP offices that are offering key services that go beyond the tasks centred on maintaining a trademark register. The project scrutinises the top 40 IP offices across the world, and reveals those offices that are leading the way in offering innovative solutions for trademark users – and also those that are falling behind.

Naturally, change is often easier-said-than-done for IP offices, particularly those that are not as well-resourced as the IPOS (both financially and technologically). But, through cooperation and support, it is a worthy goal to shoot for.

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