The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore: Measures to facilitate the use of the IP system by SMEs

The Patent Application Fund

The Patent Application Fund (PAF) provides financial assistance for covering part of the costs of patent applications, including drafting, legal and filing costs. Its aim is to encourage Singapore SMEs and individuals to apply formally for the protection of intellectual property rights.

The PAF was established in 1992 by the Singapore National Science and Technology Board (NSTB) and is administered by the Intellectual Property Office. The fund supports 50% of the legal, official and other related fees incurred in the process of applying for a patent, up to a maximum of S$30,000 for each invention. All companies of which Singapore citizens own at least 30% of the equity may apply as well as any Singapore citizens or permanent residents. Other pre-requisites include that the research work leading to the invention was conducted in Singapore and that applications to the PAF must be made within two years of the original patent application.

The number of patent applications by Singapore residents increased from 145 in 1995 to 516 in 2000. The PAF is believed to have contributed significantly to the increase in patenting activity by financially assisting companies and independent inventors to seek patent protection for their inventions.

SurfIP Marketplace

IPOS has introduced a new marketplace platform enabling IP owners, potential buyers and sellers, and licensees to come together and commercialize IP assets. See

Inventors and IP owners often face considerable obstacles in maximizing their IP. Some find it difficult to bring their ideas to the market quickly. For instance, it may be difficult and time-consuming to find and conclude an agreement with an appropriate licensee or business partner. In addition, many IP owners also may not know how to go about licensing or how to determine the value of their IP assets.

Surf IP is particularly important for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that may lack the capital to take a product to market and may be looking for licensees. Similarly, SMEs may also be looking for business opportunities with a good potential and may be willing to take out a license to commercialize patented technologies. The SurfIP marketplace provides an opportunity for licensees and licensors to meet and establish contacts for the commercialization of patented technologies.

The SurfIP Marketplace houses a platform listing what types of IP are available for licensing, and what types of IP customers are actually looking for. Users can make use of a specially designed form assisting them get their patented invention ready for the marketplace. The form helps IP owners describe, in a clear and structured manner, the function and advantages of the IP to be listed. Users can enter descriptions in as concise and targeted a manner as appropriate, to allow potential licensees and purchasers to quickly and easily locate and evaluate the relevant IP listings.

Other facilities provided in the SurfIP web site include a comprehensive IP information service connected to a number of patent databases around the world, including the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the World Intellectual Property Orgazanization (for PCT patents) and the European Patent Office. Members can quickly search through multiple patent, technical and business databases together with web sources and obtain an aggregated and integrated result of their search. Surf IP also features a cross-lingual search function.

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