Top 5 Misconceptions Start-ups Have about Patents in Singapore

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For Start-ups expanding in South-East Asia, IP protection should be considered one of its core priorities. Today’s blog post has been kindly drafted for us by Ms. Chan Wai Yeng who is a patent specialist at Taylor Vinters Via LLC. Ms. Chan Wai Yeng will explore five common misconceptions regarding patenting – something which will be useful for any European Start-up looking to expand their business in South-East Asia, and Singapore in particular.

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Intellectual property protection is an important consideration for most start-ups. The exclusive monopoly that comes with patents can help start-ups carve a niche in a crowded marketplace. Patents have always been important to some industries like Big Pharma where they develop expensive drugs in lengthy R&D processes. They have become increasingly important and relevant to new business models and technologies in the technology sector.

While the concept of a patent is fairly simple to understand, there are several misconceptions about patents which I’d love to clarify. It is important to clarify these misconceptions before embarking on the intensive patenting process.

Myth 1: A patent applicant has rights to enforce his pending patent

It is a common mistake amongst first time patentees to think that once their patent application has been filed, they will immediately gain the rights to sue third parties for infringement of their patent. Rights to bring about a suit for infringement are in fact only available to the patent owner after his patent has been granted. The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore indicates that patents filed in Singapore can take between 2 to 4 years to grant. Thus patentees should be aware that during the period when the patent is still pending, they are not able to take action against third parties that commercially exploits their invention.

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Copyright Protection in Myanmar

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Country’s Background for European SMEs

Myanmar is an emerging market showing steady growth rates since the country set itself on a course of political liberalisation. Despite being one of the poorest ASEAN nations, the country’s economy grew at around 8.5% in the 2014/2015 fiscal year, with economic reforms bolstering consumer and investor confidence. The service sector was the main driver of growth thanks to expansions in telecommunications and transportation. Myanmar is an emerging economy with a GDP of $64.3 billion, which is attracting more and more foreign investments. Its 53.4 million strong population is mainly occupied in the agricultural sector. However, the garment and mining industries, as well as wood products also take up a significant part of the economy.

EU imports for Myanmar are dominated by the textile industry, accounting for nearly 80% in 2011, making it the 29th largest trading partner for the EU for clothing. Agricultural products also play a significant role in Myanmar’s exports to the EU. EU exports to Myanmar on the other hand are dominated by machinery and transport equipment. EU exports to Myanmar have risen steadily since its increasing political liberalisation.

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IP TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Indonesia

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indonesiaIn this blog post, we will provide you with all the basics you need to successfully protect your Intellectual Property Rights in Indonesia. Known for its diverse and rapidly growing market, Indonesia provides opportunities for many European SMEs interested to expand their business into South-East Asia. This blog post will give a concise overview of IP tips and watch-outs for Indonesia – enjoy.

General IP TIPS and WATCH-OUTS in Indonesia

  • Indonesia recognises ‘well–known’ trade marks (recognition of this is made on a case-by-case basis), but only to the extent that they may be used to prevent a third party from registering a similar trade mark, at least in theory. Often, ‘bad-faith’ registrations (intentionally registering someone else’s pre-existing IP) get registered by third parties and the rightful owner has to go through the expensive process of filing proceedings in the commercial court to cancel these bad-faith registrations.
  • When the need arises to enforce rights through the authorities, it is best that IP rights owners be aware of recent media coverage of corruption cases in Indonesia. The fact that corruption cases have been surfaced demonstrates the government’s efforts at cleaning up corruption cases; however it is still worth discussing a potential corruption risk with your attorney when enforcing your rights via the authorities.
  • Because IP rights enforcement in Indonesia can still be problematic, it is essential to register your rights there in order to stand a chance of defending them. Intellectual Property Rights are territorial in nature, which means that registrations in one country’s jurisdiction are not automatically enforceable in others, and therefore registrations in multiple countries may be necessary, particularly for businesses looking to internationalise. Indonesia operates under a ‘first-to file’ system, meaning that the first person to file an IP right in the Indonesian jurisdiction will own that right once the application is granted.

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Handling of your Trade Secrets in South-East Asia

MP900285073[1]Many European SMEs are thinking about bringing their technology to South-East Asia, but are concerned about IP issues. In today’s blog post, we discuss another IP protection measure – namely trade secrets. Trade secrets are a valuable but often overlooked means of IP protection that SMEs wishing to bring their technology to South-East Asia should be aware of, as good trade secret protection can be the key to successfully bringing your technology to South-East Asia. 

What are Trade Secrets?

Trade secrets are a highly valuable form of intellectual property that nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess. However, they are frequently overlooked by businesses, partly because there is confusion about what actually constitutes a trade secret. So what is a trade secret?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), any confidential business information that is of considerable commercial value to businesses and that provides an enterprise with a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret. In practice, this could be:

  • sales methods
  • distribution methods
  • consumer profiles
  • advertising plans
  • pricing strategies
  • lists of suppliers and clients
  • manufacturing processes

In other words, more often than not trade secrets are the ‘know-how’ that a business builds up over time. Typically, the longer the SME is in business the more valuable its trade secrets will become, and the more its business grows the more its competitors will seek to discover this valuable working knowledge. Therefore, it is increasingly important to take steps to protect trade secrets.

Unlike some other forms of IP rights, such as patents and copyrights that have a finite term, trade secrets can theoretically enjoy an infinite term of protection, so long as the trade secret remains just that – a secret. Furthermore, to be enforceable by law it is generally required that as well as not being known to the public and providing economic benefits to the holder, the secret should be subjected to reasonable efforts to protect it (and there should be evidence of these efforts). Continue reading “Handling of your Trade Secrets in South-East Asia” »

Agribusiness in the Philippines: Protecting New Plant Varieties

MC900449051Underpinned by goverment’s support, the agriculture sector is rapidly growing and modernizing in the Philippines. This offers lucrative business opportunities for European agribusinesses as their technology becomes in high demand. However, IPR violations like counterfeiting are still a major problem in the Philippines and thus European SMEs need to have a robust IPR protection strategy in place when planning to do business in the Philippines. Today’s blog post is taking a look at the new plant varieties protection, something that is of utmost importance to agribusinesses engaged in breeding plants. SMEs will learn what they can do to protect their new plant varieties in the Philippines and how to enforce their rights in case of an infringement. 

The agricultural sector is a major part of the Philippines economy: it makes up around 11% of GDP and employs about a third of the country’s workforce. The Philippines is home to a wide variety of indigenous agricultural products and constitutes a fertile environment that can host a diverse range of plant varieties. There also exists a large a gap in the application of innovative farming practices and the use of new specialised plant varieties, partly highlighted by the Philippines joining the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) which is now driving producers to adopt new practices to compete with imports and achieve profitable exports. Furthermore, the Philippines Agribusiness Strategy aims at transforming and upgrading the agriculture sector from traditional farming to agribusiness or industrial clusters to take advantage of opportunities in rubber, coconut, mangoes, bananas, coffee, palm oil, cacao, and other emerging high value crops[1].

Although, the Philippines is more popularly known for the production of regional tropical fruit (it is the world’s largest producer of both coconuts and pineapples), the Philippines has historically played a significant role in agricultural innovations. The International Rice Research Institute is based in Los Baños, Laguna, and took a prominent role in the development of new high-yield rice varieties during the Green Revolution, with the country now standing as the eighth largest producer in the world[2]. However, in recent years private enterprise has increasingly been the source of innovation and accordingly the need for adequate protection of innovations has been a growing concern. Continue reading “Agribusiness in the Philippines: Protecting New Plant Varieties” »