From 4 May 2020, a patent applicant can apply under the SG Patent Fast Track Programme ("the Programme") to shorten the time it takes to obtain a patent grant from the filing of its patent application in Singapore. The timeframe from application filing to grant can be as short as six months. This appears to be the first time any Patent Office has offered such a scheme for fast track grant of patents.
The SG Patent Fast Track Programme is a pilot scheme initiated by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore ("IPOS") and is scheduled to end on 29 April 2022. The Programme is not limited to any field of technology and will replace the earlier FinTech Fast Track ("FTFT") and the Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence ("AI2") programmes.
In particular, applicants for inventions directed to technologies with social and/or healthcare impacts and/or to emerging technologies with a short product lifecycle are encouraged to apply. Examples of such technologies are those relating to sustainable food production, climate change, ventilators, diagnostic kits and other digital health solutions. Patent applications which were previously eligible for the FTFT and the AI2 programmes may also come under the SG Patent Fast Track.
A number of criteria must be met before an application may be accepted into the Programme:
- The application must be the first patent application that is filed for an invention (i.e. without any priority claim);
- The application must contain no more than 20 claims; and
- There is a limit to the number of applications which can be processed per month under the Programme. This is between five to ten applications per month, depending on the unutilised capacity rolled over from the previous month. There is also a limit of ten applications per year per applicant.
Additionally, at the time of filing the patent application, a request for search and examination together with a FastTrack document which states the reason for the fast track request and the field of technology of the invention must be submitted.
No additional official fees are payable at this time. However, it is important for applicants to note that there are tight timelines to meet under the Programme. For example, a response to formalities objections must be filed within two weeks and a response to a Written Opinion must be filed within two months.
This article is produced by our Singapore office, Bird & Bird ATMD LLP, and does not constitute legal advice. It is intended to provide general information only. Please contact our lawyers if you have any specific queries.