The Singapore Government s Intellectual Property Hub Master Plan

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1 The Singapore Government s Hub Master Plan Introduction On 1, the Ministry Of Law announced that the Singapore Government had accepted the ( IP ) Hub Master Plan recommendations made by the IP Steering Committee ( Committee ). The Committee was formed in May 2012 to formulate the IP Hub Master Plan ( Master Plan ) to guide Singapore s development into a global IP hub in Asia, and was chaired by Mr Teo Ming Kian, Chairman of MediaCorp Pte Ltd. More than 200 professionals in the IP industry and over 100 local and foreign companies and organisations were consulted in the course of the Committee s study. In this Update, we provide a brief summary of the Committee s recommendations, which may provide you with some insights on how IP will impact your future business operations and valuable intellectual property when the Committee s recommendations are implemented. Overview of the Recommendations The Master Plan is a 10-year plan that sets out a vision for Singapore as a global IP hub in Asia, and comprises three strategic outcomes and two supporting enablers that will be essential to achieve those outcomes. The key initiatives for each outcome and enabler as proposed by the Committee are set out below. Strategic Outcome 1 IP Transactions, Valuations and Management This outcome seeks to establish Singapore as a base for companies to manage and transact IP at an international level. IP Transactions An IP financing scheme will be introduced by the Government to partially underwrite the value of patents used as collateral in an event of default, which will encourage banks to recognise IP as an asset class and allow IP-rich companies to raise capital more easily using their IP assets. This will enable financial institutions in Singapore to build IP financing capabilities, which may include: 1 Rajah & Tann LLP

2 (a) IP-backed loans - loans that are partially or wholly secured by the company's IP assets as collateral; (b) IP-securitisation - upfront lump-sum payments made in, exchange for future royalty streams arising out of the company's IP assets; and (c) IP-funds - strategic investment in IP such as acquiring IP for licensing, investing in the development or commercialisation of IP, or taking equity stakes in companies which own IP. Further, financial institutions engaged in IP financing-related courses such as IP valuation may be eligible for grants under the Financial Training Scheme, which is administered by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. IP Valuation - Although there are well-established international standards governing the valuation of intangible assets in general, there may be ambiguity within these broad frameworks in the way assumptions are made. This is especially so when dealing with IP valuation at an early stage. To deal with this issue, a platform for industry players to collaborate on research and thought leadership with regards to IP valuation will be created. The Office of Singapore ( IPOS ) will create such a platform through the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for IP valuation. The Centre will work with industry stakeholders to undertake a range of activities, including research on IP valuation methodologies, training and certification for IP valuation professionals, and establishing industry-wide best practices. Ultimately, it is hoped that Singapore can establish itself as the world leader in this area to promote industry norms and practices that are adopted worldwide. Last, the Singapore Exchange will also encourage listed companies to disclose their IP rights. By having a clear and structured disclosure of the company's IP rights and associated valuation, investors can form a more accurate assessment of the company's strengths and potential for growth. IP Management - The key initiative that will be introduced to accomplish this is the setting up of a Joint Programme Office between the Economic Development Board and Ministry of Law. The Joint Programme Office's objective will be to attract top IP intermediaries and to support initiatives to catalyse marketplace development. 2 Rajah & Tann LLP

3 Strategic Outcome 2 Quality IP Filings This outcome seeks to attract more companies to register their IP in Singapore and to utilise Singapore s IP services and infrastructure, such that Singapore acquires leverage as a gateway to secure IP protection in key markets around the world. The main initiatives here will be driven by IPOS, such as the making of a S$50 million investment to build up patent search and examination capabilities. Further, IPOS will forge stronger cooperation with other national IP offices as well as build a comprehensive network of Patent Prosecution Highways to expedite patent filing processes in foreign jurisdictions from Singapore. Strategic Outcome 3 IP Dispute Resolution This outcome relates to the creation of a culture of expeditious and effective resolution through litigation or alternative dispute resolution for IP disputes brought in Singapore. To achieve this, the Supreme Court is creating a specialised docket system for all cases, which will implement practices such as assigning an IP judge earlier to IP cases to enhance case disposal efficiency in the IP Court. The Ministry of Law will also collaborate with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre to form a panel of top international IP arbitrators in Singapore. Last, IPOS will offer parties in patent disputes a new expert determination option through the World Organization s Arbitration and Mediation Centre ( WIPO AMC ). Supporting Enabler 1 Skilled, Networked Manpower Resources This enabler will help achieve the outcomes specified above by facilitating the international needs of companies for a globally competitive IP workforce with specialised IP skill sets. The key initiatives here include the IPOS IP Competency Framework ( IPCF ), which will define the competencies required for key IP job roles in the industry, accredit training providers and their programmes offered under the framework, and to certify the attainment of these competencies into industry-recognised qualifications. Certain competency units under the IPCF will be introduced as early as. The IPCF will also provide multi-disciplinary opportunities and training paths for IP professionals at all stages of their career. In terms of career advancement, IP professionals can look forward to exploring and maximising their potential over not just a wide variety 3 Rajah & Tann LLP

4 of disciplines such as business, finance, legal and technical, but also across a wide spectrum of jobs in the IP sector. With the IPCF in place, there will also be development of key expertise such as Technology Transfer Managers, who help commercialise and prototype research areas and early stage technologies into new products as well as IP Managers, who help negotiate license agreements and bring new technologies into the market. Such expertise will help create a comprehensive pool of professionals in the IP value chain. Last, IPOS will invest S$15 million to strengthen the IP Academy as the central agency to coordinate the delivery of IP education and training in Singapore. Supporting Enabler 2 Conducive and Progressive Environment for IP Activities This enabler will strengthen Singapore s international acclaim as a vibrant IP hub and IP thought leader. Part of this will involve enhancing the tax environment to attract and anchor IP portfolios. This will be catered for through enhancing the Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme, which was introduced by the Ministry of Finance and administered by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, to cover activities such as the acquisition and registration of IP. With respect to IP thought leadership, flagship events such as the Global Forum on IP and the IP Business Congress Asia Conference will be hosted in Asia to create a nexus for exchanging views among the international IP community. Concluding Words The Master Plan provides businesses with much food for thought with regards to monetising and maximising the value of the IP assets of companies and individuals. IP owners will certainly benefit from the greater availability of services and avenues to protect, manage and maximise value from their IP assets. Financial institutions will also need to relook at their valuation models for asset classes, and take stock of revising traditional models of valuation to account for the upcoming initiatives in the Master Plan. Given the complexity and highly specialised nature of the IP field, businesses should prepare well ahead to avoid being left out of the many opportunities that will be created by the Master Plan. 4 Rajah & Tann LLP

5 Please contact any of our partners listed below if you have any queries. Please feel free to also contact the Knowledge and Risk Management Group at Contacts Lau Kok Keng Head of Practice D (65) F (65) Lionel Tan D (65) F (65) Benjamin Cheong D (65) F (65) Please feel free to also contact the Knowledge and Risk Management Group at Rajah & Tann LLP is the largest law firm in Singapore and Southeast Asia, with regional offices in China, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar, as well as associate and affiliate offices in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East. Our Asian network also includes regional desks focused on Japan and South Asia. As the Singapore member firm of the Lex Mundi Network, we are able to offer access to excellent legal expertise in more than 100 countries. Rajah & Tann LLP is firmly committed to the provision of high quality legal services. It places strong emphasis on promptness, accessibility and reliability in dealing with clients. At the same time, the firm strives towards a practical yet creative approach in dealing with business and commercial problems. The contents of this Update are owned by Rajah & Tann LLP and subject to copyright protection under the laws of Singapore and, through international treaties, other countries. No part of this Update may be reproduced, licensed, sold, published, transmitted, modified, adapted, publicly displayed, broadcast (including storage in any medium by electronic means whether or not transiently for any purpose save as permitted herein) without the prior written permission of Rajah & Tann LLP. Please note also that whilst the information in this Update is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief at the time of writing, it is only intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should not be treated as a substitute for specific professional advice for any particular course of action as such information may not suit your specific business and operational requirements. It is to your advantage to seek legal advice for your specific situation. In this regard, you may call the lawyer you normally deal with in Rajah & Tann LLP or the Knowledge & Risk Management Group at 5 Rajah & Tann LLP

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