13 Mar 2014 Posted in Speeches
President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Mr Michael Stephens,
Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Mr Richard Tan,
Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Ms Lim Seok Hui,
Deputy Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center, Mr Ignacio De Castro,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good morning to all of you.
Thank you for inviting me to speak at this symposium. I am very pleased to be here with you.
First, let me start by congratulating the organisers for putting together this event. This collaboration is an example of how different dispute resolution institutes in Singapore can come together and leverage their respective expertise and networks to promote the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, amongst the international business community and to share best practices in ADR. Each institute plays an important role in Singapore’s ADR ecosystem and in the development of Singapore into the preferred venue in Asia for dispute resolution.
Role of IP and Technology in Global Commerce
- Today’s symposium on IP, media and technology arbitration is timely. It underscores the growing importance of IP and technology in global commerce. The 2013 Global Innovation Index published by Cornell University, INSEAD and WIPO highlighted that innovation is now a “global game”.
- The pace of technological advancement is picking up rapidly, and innovation cycles are getting shorter. There is an inexorable convergence of technology, and media platforms, most obviously seen in mobile devices such as the smartphones. By some estimates, some 250,000 patents are used in a smartphone with many more copyright and technological applications.
- IP rights are becoming indispensable for companies looking to grow and expand globally. R&D, IP rights, technology transfer, and the prevention and resolution of IP disputes play vital roles in the intersection between technology and business.
- The trends bear these out. IP filings are increasing worldwide. The 2013 World Intellectual Property Indicators Report indicated that patent filings grew by 9.2 per cent in 2012, the fastest in the last 18 years. Industrial design applications also increased by 17 per cent and trade mark filings by 6 per cent.
- Asia is a growing creator of IP. This is evidenced by the significant year-on-year increase in IP filings in many Asian countries, and in particular China.
- R&D expenditure in many Asian countries has also been growing steadily. Under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2015 plan, Singapore aims to achieve a gross expenditure on R&D of 3.5 per cent of GDP by 2015, up from 2 per cent in 2012. Our local firms are also stepping up, increasing their R&D expenditure by 16% to S$1.3 billion in 2012 compared to the year before. Just three weeks ago, the Government announced that existing tax incentives aimed at encouraging private R&D will be extended. This includes extending the 50 per cent additional tax deduction on qualifying R&D expenditure for another 10 years to 2025. The writing down allowance for cost incurred to acquire IP rights has also been extended to 2020.
- Asia’s stellar economic growth has created a burgeoning consumer market that will see 3.2 billion people in the middle-class segment by 2030. Affluent Asian consumers will demand more sophisticated and IP-rich products that are at the cutting edge of technology. We can thus expect even greater focus on the protection, and leveraging, of IP in Asia in the coming years.
- It is against this backdrop that Singapore has identified IP to be a strategic area of growth. The Ministry of Law released the IP Hub Master Plan last year, to guide the development of Singapore as a Global IP hub in Asia to service the needs of local and international companies in IP and support the development of the IP landscape in Asia.
Global Growth in IP and Technology Disputes
- I will elaborate on one of the desired outcomes of the Master Plan, which is to develop Singapore as a hub for IP dispute resolution.
- In today’s increasingly competitive landscape, companies have had to fight harder to protect and enforce their IP rights. Recent high profile IP disputes, for example the Apple – Samsung dispute, have brought this into the limelight. It has highlighted the need for companies to actively put in place an effective IP management strategy as an integral part of their overall business strategy.
- We are already seeing a growing trend of IP litigation in Asia. But as the disputes grow in numbers and complexity, there will undoubtedly be greater interest in alternative dispute resolution, specifically arbitration, to resolve IP disputes more effectively.
Strategic Use of Arbitration for IP and Technology Disputes
- For IP and technology disputes, the use of arbitration can have some advantages over litigation.
- First, arbitration allows parties to choose arbitrators with specialist technical expertise, or even opt to use a specialist arbitral institution such as WIPO. This is very useful because IP and technology disputes often involve complex technical and scientific issues. Specialist expertise is critical for understanding the issues at hand and ensuring a fair adjudication of the dispute.
- Second, confidentiality is protected in arbitration, either by contract or as part of the Arbitration Rules set by the arbitral institution.
- This is important because IP and technology disputes commonly involve products or processes that are still in the development phase. The confidentiality of the arbitration process can prevent the premature leak of commercially valuable information.
- Third, arbitration enables parties to resolve cross-border or multi-jurisdictional disputes at a single forum, and have the arbitral award enforced across multiple jurisdictions. This can save parties significant time and cost.
Continual Enhancement of Our Dispute Resolution Landscape
- While we have enjoyed considerable success in our efforts to develop Singapore into a hub for dispute resolution, we will nonetheless continue our efforts to enhance the spectrum of dispute resolution options in Singapore.
- To this end, we have recently announced our plans to set up the Singapore International Mediation Centre and the Singapore International Commercial Court.
- The Singapore International Mediation Centre will offer world-class commercial mediation services. It will help parties to mutually arrive at a mix of legal and non-legal solutions in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
- Like the SIMC, the Singapore International Commercial Court aims to attract international cases with little or no connection to Singapore. Parties who prefer the availability of appeal, or are involved in multi-party or non-arbitrable disputes, may prefer SICC to conventional arbitration.
- Both SIMC and the SICC will be complementary to arbitration, and will fill a gap that cannot be met by arbitration or the existing court-based litigation. The idea is to enable Singapore to provide users with the entire suite of dispute resolution services to choose from, depending on their needs. This will grow the dispute resolution pie in Singapore, and create significant opportunities for lawyers based in Singapore.
- Besides expanding the range of dispute resolution options in Singapore, we will also enhance the depth of IP expertise for each option.
- The IP Court of the High Court has designated IP Judges in recognition that IP cases can be highly complex and technical and require Judges who are well-versed in IP laws.
- In addition, the SIAC has, just last month, appointed a new panel of IP expert arbitrators. We believe this appointment will raise the international profile of Singapore’s alternative dispute resolution capabilities in the field of IP, and help to attract more IP arbitration cases to Singapore.
- The increasing role of IP and technology in global commerce presents significant opportunities for dispute resolution service providers and legal practitioners based in Singapore.
- MinLaw is fully committed to supporting the growth and development of the dispute resolution sector in Singapore.
- I wish you a fruitful symposium. Thank you very much for inviting me to be part of it.
Last updated on 14 Mar 2014