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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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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IP Protection Strategies in the Philippines for the Logistics and Transportation Industry

Logistics3In today’s blog post we will discuss the IP protection in the Logistics and Transportation industry –  one of the fast-growing industries in the Philippines that is also expected to offer promising business opportunities to European SMEs whose top-notch technology is especially sought after. The blog post offers some practical tips on IP protection to keep in mind before entering the promising market of the Philippines. 

The logistics and transportation industry in the Philippines is growing steadily due to strong economic growth in the country and gradual increase in domestic demand fueled by the rise of the country’s middle class and increase in remittances from workers abroad. According to various studies, the industry is expected to grow as much as 16.7% by 2020.[1] Opportunities for logistics providers also continue to expand thanks to the steady growth in the Philippine’s e-commerce sector.

However, transportation costs in the Philippines are still significantly higher than in many other ASEAN countries, notably in Malaysia and Thailand. This is due to the geographic challenges that the Philippines faces as a conglomerate of islands, but also due to unclear regulations imposed by different government agencies that sometimes induce informal payments.[2] The transportation and logistics industry also faces some infrastructural challenges as the country still suffers from congestion on the roads in urban areas and at seaports. For example, clearance time for shipments at ports is more than twice as long in the Philippines than in many of its neighboring countries.

On the other hand, this year the Philippine government has put forward an ambitious plan of modernizing and improving the country’s infrastructure such as building new roads, railways, airports and improving the situation of seaports.  The government has also committed itself to improving the regulations and to fight corruption in transportation sector.[3] This means that the transportation and logistics industry would offer lucrative business opportunities for European SMEs in the near future.

European logistics and transportation SMEs wishing to enter the Philippines’ market need to keep in mind that despite the improvements in the Philippines’ IP laws and regulations, counterfeiting and other IP infringements are still commonplace in the country and thus a robust IP strategy is needed to grow their business in the Philippines. Continue reading “IP Protection Strategies in the Philippines for the Logistics and Transportation Industry” »

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” »

Handling Trade Secrets in China: IP Case Study

MP900387752In today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at a rather overlooked means of IP protection, namely trade secrets. Even though, trade secrets are a type of IP that does not require formal registration, there are still some aspects to pay attention to when using trade secrets to protect your inventions in China. We’ve chosen a case study involving a Dutch SME to highlight some of these aspects. 

Trade Secrets in China 

Nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess trade secrets. Trade secrets are a valuable and highly useful form of intellectual property that are nevertheless often undervalued and overlooked by their owners. This is not least the case in the service sector where the relative value of trade secrets as intangible assets can be extremely high. For example, a logistics firm may not hold any patents or few trade marks and substantial copyrights, but the value of its operations could heavily derive from information contained within client lists and standard procedures.

A considerable advantage for trade secrets is that 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. The main difference between protecting something by patent or as a trade secret is that, while technical information is publicly disclosed in patents, it is kept away from the public eye in trade secrets. A trade secret can last forever as long as the confidentiality measures that protect it continue to work. An invention patent typically expires after 20 years.

On the other hand, legal protection of trade secrets is easily lost. Once the information becomes public information, it no longer enjoys any legal protection. As a result, prevention is the golden rule when it comes to protecting your trade secrets, because once your secret is out, there is usually very little that you can do about it. China, like most other countries, provides a legal framework for the protection for trade secrets, and the law provides for remedies in the event that your trade secrets are unlawfully disclosed. Continue reading “Handling Trade Secrets in China: IP Case Study” »