Singapore's IP-licensing industry receives boost


Singapore's fledgling intellectual property (IP) licensing industry has been boosted by the decision of the Singapore International Franchise Association (SIFA) to enlarge its scope to include the licensing of brands and technology.

The SIFA was originally established in 1993 to develop Singapore's franchise industry and has since been actively involved in promoting the concept of franchising among local businesses. However, (i) recognizing the synergistic relationship between franchising, branding and technology licensing, and (ii) responding to changing market interests, the SIFA has decided to widen its scope to include brand and technology licensing. To mark this change, the SIFA has been renamed the Franchising and Licensing Association (FLA).

Industry professionals have long commented that local businesses are generally unaware of the importance of branding and have not learnt to maximize their brand value. However, this is expected to change as more Singaporean firms expand overseas, particularly following the ratification of free trade agreements between Singapore and the United States, as well as Japan, Australia and New Zealand (see Free trade agreement will strengthen trademark protection).

Speaking at the second Singapore Promising Brand Award presentation ceremony, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry Raymond Lim stated that the government of Singapore is committed to helping Singaporean companies build up their brands. He noted the ability of strong brands to provide long-lasting returns in the areas of market leadership, profitability and customer loyalty. He also urged local companies to lay greater emphasis on branding as they expand overseas and encounter competition from traders offering similar goods and services.

The FLA predicts that IP licensing will be the next big thing for local businesses as they learn to capitalize on their IP assets. IP-licensing revenues in Singapore amounted to S$87 million in 2000, a mere 0.03% of the world's total IP-licensing revenues. The FLA hopes to raise that figure to 1% of the world's total, by promoting franchising, licensing and branding in Singapore. This is in line with the government's aim of transforming the country into an IP hub.

Regina Quek, Tan JinHwee Eunice & Lim ChooEng, Singapore

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