Opening Address by Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, at IP Week @ SG 2014
26 Aug 2014 Posted in Speeches
Dr Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization
Dr Stanley Lai, Chairman, Intellectual Property Office of Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen
A very warm welcome to all of you to Singapore. Thank you for having me here today at the opening of the Intellectual Property Management for C-Suite (IPM-CS), the anchor event for this year’s IP Week @ SG.
IP Week @ SG this year has the participation of more than 1,000 people from over 30 countries.
- Asia and IP
- Let me say a few words about IP in the Asian context.
- Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Asia reached US$440 billion in 2013 - almost a 30 percent growth from 2009. In Southeast Asia, FDI into Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand grew by 7 percent to about US$130 billion from 2012 to 2013 1, within one year. If you look at the ten countries of ASEAN with a population of 610 million and a combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion, they make up the third largest economy in Asia 2, after China and Japan. And larger than the economy of India. In fact, if you take the ten countries in ASEAN as a whole, it is the seventh or eighth largest economy in the world 3.
- Against this backdrop, there are now serious efforts to integrate the economies in Asia, and of course a key plank for that, for us, is the ASEAN Economic Community envisaged in 2015, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as the RCEP, regional comprehensive economic partnership which tries to put together a free trade agreement between all of ASEAN’s free trade partners. These initiatives will open up new and exciting economic opportunities and challenges for businesses in this region.
- Businesses are generally very optimistic about Asia. Asian economies (including those in ASEAN) are relatively young, and the demand for sophisticated products and services will grow. According to estimates, by 2015, the number of Asian middle class consumers will equal the combined number in Europe and North America. By 2021, on present trends, there could be more than 2 billion Asians, qualifying as middle class households 4.
- Given a younger, savvier and better educated populace in these countries with good purchasing power, there will be greater demand for better services and higher-end goods. IP will be a key component of that. That will include, for example, smartphones, digital services, industrial equipment, household appliances and global consumer goods, and even food products such as milk powder fortified with health-enhancing supplements.
- Asia as creator of IP
- While Asian economies on the whole are catching up in terms of IP exploitation, they are also in various stages of using and creating IP. Therefore, protecting the IP behind these goods will thus be important. And will become increasingly more important.
- If you look at some statistics:
- Amongst national and regional IP offices, China and Korea have joined Japan in the list of 5 fastest growing in the world in terms of patent applications for 2011-2012. Korea and China were also amongst the 5 fastest growing IP offices for registered design applications 5. While IP activity in Indo-China and Indonesia remain nascent, their sizeable populations and growing middle class demonstrate potential for such activity to increase in the coming years 6.
- In quantitative terms, Asia already leads Europe and US in filings for patent, trademark and registered designs. Asian IP offices received a combined share of 56% of all patent applications worldwide, in contrast with Europe’s 15%. For trademarks, Asia accounted for 47% of all trademark filings, in contrast with Europe’s 31% 7.
- Advanced Asian economies like Japan, China and Korea are now strong creators of IP; from being mere users of IP, they have seen the rise of conglomerates which have developed and leveraged on their own IP for business exploitation.
- IP will become more important as a key factor of growth for these companies. The companies in Thomson Reuter’s 2013 list of top 100 most innovative companies in the world bear testimony to this, having generated US$4.5 trillion in revenue, spent US$223 billion on research and development (R&D), and outperformed the Standard & Poor (S&P)’s 500 by over 4% in annual stock price gains and 2% in revenue growth 8. A 2013 study conducted jointly by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) found that Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) intensive industries account for 26% of all jobs in the European Union, and 39% of total GDP, worth €4.7 trillion.
- Relevance of Singapore’s IP Hub to Businesses in Asia
- In the past five years, we have been consistently ranked among the top three countries in the world for IP protection by the World Economic Forum. We take IP seriously. Singapore’s 7th position in the Intellectual Property Organisation’s Global Innovation Index (GII) 9 2014 also underscores the importance we place on IP.
- We sit in the crossroads of Asia – we are a melting pot of Asian cultures as well as influences from the West. We are an open economy which has increasingly embraced IP, and we are well-positioned to help businesses exploit and manage their business and IP interests in the region.
- That is the purpose for our IP Hub Master Plan launched last year. That Master Plan will serve as a roadmap for us to enhance our IP infrastructure and assets to help companies bring IP into play for their businesses in Asia.
- Encouraging IP Filings: helping businesses to reach out to the region
- We have paved the way for Singapore to be the gateway to ASEAN and beyond by increasing our IP connectivity and ensuring quality IP filings. Our assurance of quality patents granted speedily is backed by a Patent Search & Examination (S&E) Unit that IPOS is continually strengthening. Their first-office-action is completed within a span of six months, which compares favourably with the norm of between 12 to 18 months. The Unit has also conducted S&E comparison exercises with other established IP offices. The results of the comparison exercises have been positive, hence validating the quality of our examiners’ work to meet international standards.
- Businesses wishing to enjoy fast-tracked patent applications outside ASEAN can take advantage of the various Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) arrangements that IPOS has established. From the two PPH arrangements we had in 2011, we now have five, the United States, Japan, Korea, China, Mexico and Germany will be added soon. Under the PPH with the United States and Japan, for example, a company can save up to two years of processing time for filing its patents in these countries. Singapore will also be part of the Global PPH pilot from 1 November this year, in a decision that was made yesterday. This will open up more opportunities for businesses to fast-track their applications in more countries including Australia, Canada, Russia, the UK and the Nordic countries.
- Facilitating IP management & transactions: supporting businesses to develop their competitive edge
- We are keen to help businesses develop their competitive advantage through IP. IPOS has in the past year engaged double the number of IP-rich enterprises in Singapore through its IP Management for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) programme, and trying to help them grow in their businesses. And we’re looking at more ways, businesses can mobilise their IP assets through a fairly innovative IP Financing Scheme that IPOS has put in place where IP can be used as collateral to access capital for business expansion. And because financial institutions and banks take some time to warm up to the idea, the government of Singapore has come to try and help support part of the collateral. As a result three local banks, DBS, OCBC and UOB, are now participating in this venture, so that their risk is shared with the government of Singapore.
- We wish to help businesses recognise the value of their ideas and innovations, and better commercialise them. As part of the programme today, we are launching the “IP ValueLab”, which is an enterprise engagement arm of IPOS. This ValueLab will help businesses unlock the value of their intellectual property, and will present them with a suite of solutions in IP management, valuation and monetisation. It will establish industry-wide valuation standards, promote research on IP valuation standards and best practices, and collaborate with top valuation experts such as the Singapore Accountancy Commission. It will develop a curriculum for the training of IP valuers, as well as administer the IP financing scheme in conjunction with participating banks. Beyond financing, the Lab will also look into programmes to assist companies in their IP management practices.
- To that end, we are expanding the range of services available at IP 101, IPOS’ one-stop services centre for the IP community. Come next quarter, enterprises in need of some direction on legal issues relating to their IP will have the opportunity to attend IP Legal Clinics at IP 101, where they can obtain preliminary advice from qualified practitioners.
- And IPOS will be launching an IP scholarship that will be awarded to 15 outstanding graduates per year seeking to pursue a career in the IP industry through master-degree courses in top universities.
- Reviewing IP dispute resolution: streamlining the process for businesses to resolve IP disputes
- IPOS has also introduced an expert determination option which will allow disputing parties to submit patent disputes to an expert of their choice. Put together in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO AMC) which is here, this flexible and confidential procedure will provide parties with customizable options for settling their patent disputes filed with IPOS, and allow them to save some time and money.
- By the end of this year, we will boast a complete suite of international dispute resolution capabilities, from mediation, expert determination, arbitration through the IP panel at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and international commercial litigation through the Singapore International Commercial Court. We will examine how we can streamline all of these further to make sure that people who want these services can access them easily and quickly.
- Really I think we all recognise, Asia provides a new frontier for IP. The region has grown from a mere consumer and importer of IP to one which stands at the forefront of IP filings, transactions and management. We have to pay close attention to that and Singapore will play a part in that development.
- Thank you.
 Derived from UNCTAD Statistics database. See [http://unctadstat.unctad](http://unctadstat.unctad.org/).
 ASEAN Statistics database – Selected Key Indicators, Table 1. See [https://data.aseanstats.org/#](https://data.aseanstats.org/).
sup></sup> Derived from UNCTAD Statistics database. See [http://unctadstat.unctad.org](http://unctadstat.unctad.org/)
 Kharas, H. and Gertz, G. (2010) The New Global Middle Class: A Cross-over From West to East In C. Li (Ed.) China’s Emerging Middle Class: Beyond Economic Transformation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
 See “Highlights” section of World Intellectual Property Indicators – 2013 Edition, page 2.
 For example, Indonesia apparently only granted 19 patents in 2012. In contrast, Malaysia granted 2,460 that year, against Singapore’s 5,633. Korea granted 113,467. See WIPO’s Table P2 – Patent grants by patent office and origin, and patents in force 2012 at [http://www.wipo.int/ipstats/en/wipi/](http://www.wipo.int/ipstats/en/wipi/).
 Source : WIPO IP Facts and Figures 2013, at page 8.
 Press Release – Thomson Reuters Names the World's Top 100 Most Innovative Organisations for 2013 [http://thomsonreuters.com](http://thomsonreuters.com/)
 Co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and WIPO, the GII ranks world economies’ innovation capabilities and results. It hopes to guide good policies, and highlight good practices and metrics to be used to assess innovation and related policy performance. Citing the United Arab Emirates as an example of a knowledge based economy, a conducive IP structure was a cited as a key contributor to technological capital, which in turn is a key driver to innovation. See page 134 at [http://www.wipo.int/publications/en/details.jsp?id=3254&plang=EN](http://www.wipo.int/publications/en/details.jsp?id=3254&plang=EN)
Last updated on 26 Jun 2018