“IPOS expects that the introduction of this mobile app will help facilitate a growing number of trademark applications; the agency notes that trademark applications in Singapore have increased by 30% over the past five years.”
On August 21, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) announced the release of its official app for mobile devices, titled IPOS Go, to the Apple App and Google Play stores. Among the services offered through the app are trademark filing services, making this particular app the world’s first for enabling the filing of trademark registration documents from a mobile device.
According to the press release issued by IPOS, the process for filing a trademark application through the app is much more streamlined than traditional filings, and applications can be submitted within about 10 minutes instead of the 45 to 60-minute average for other methods. IPOS also indicates that filing costs through the app will be significantly reduced, although the press release doesn’t provide concrete details about those costs. As The Straits Times reports, IPOS trademark application filing fees are currently $240 for a single trademark in any class and marks can be renewed after 10 years for $380 per class.
IPOS expects that the introduction of this mobile app will help facilitate a growing number of trademark applications; the agency notes that trademark applications in Singapore have increased by 30% over the past five years. As reported by ZDNet, IPOS took in 50,035 trademark applications and registered 37,030 trademarks during 2017. A little over 20% of both filed applications and trademark registrations that year belonged to domestic entities in Singapore. The top foreign filers of trademark applications into Singapore included Amazon Technologies and Apple.
IPOS Go Provides IP Search Options Including AI Search for Similar Image Marks
Artificial intelligence technology incorporated into IPOS Go will aid applicants by identifying image marks that are similar to those included in their applications, preventing the filing of trademarks that are too similar to existing ones that have already been registered. This particular component of IPOS Go’s services could be incredibly useful to applicants given that more than 40% of trademark registrations worldwide include images.
The IPOS Go app has seven main sections. Five sections require users to login with either a SingPass or a CorpPass account: Trademark Application, Trademark Renewal, Filing History, Application Drafts, and Inbox. All app users, however, are able to access the IP Search and Similar Mark Search sections of the app. Similar Mark Search allows users to upload image files to search for similar images that have been included in trademark applications already on file with IPOS. Users can also search for marks by trademark text or image descriptors. Anyone downloading the app is also free to use the IP Search section of the app which gives users the ability to search patent, trademark, design and geographical indication applications that have been filed with IPOS.
IPOS’ mobile app is part of the agency’s commitment to the country’s Smart Nation initiative. This program includes a variety of efforts to increase the use of digital technologies in various sectors including urban living, government services, health, transportation, strategic national projects and business startups. Examples of these efforts include the SingPass accounts for seamless access to an array of government services and the country’s Networked Trade Platform which can process trade permits in less than one hour.
Isabelle Tan, Director, Registry of Trademarks, IPOS, offered the following remarks in the agency’s press release:
Trademarks are the meat and potatoes of the IP world. They communicate the emotional and reputational attributes of every enterprise, creating a differentiating identity in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Everyone deals with trademarks daily, and the trademark system is crucial in the protection and monetisation of that distinctive identity. Given the widespread use of smartphones for transactions today, the IPOS Go mobile app is just a fingertip away for businesses and entrepreneurs to protect their trademarks, build consumer loyalty, and ultimately generate and increase revenue for the company.
Recent IPOS Actions to Cut Costs for Singapore IP Owners
IPOS has introduced a couple of cost-saving measures for intellectual property rights owners over the past few months. In June, Singapore Business Review reported that IPOS, along with Lloyd’s Asia and Antares Underwriting Asia, had established an insurance program for IP rights owners to provide owners of Singapore IP with enterprise coverage for legal expenses incurred in the process of IP infringement proceedings going on around the world. Then in early August, IPOS announced a collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center to offer reduced prices for alternative dispute resolution proceedings to resolve copyright disputes in Singapore.
Singapore boasts one of the world’s more developed intellectual property systems, ranking 10th overall in the 2019 International IP Index although it only ranked 15th in terms of national trademark systems. There’s no indication at this early stage that the IPOS Go app will make much impact on Singapore’s international ranking although it’s certainly possible that increased digitization of IPOS resources, if coupled with better enforcement mechanisms, could help the country improve its score in areas related to exclusive rights to redress unauthorized uses of trademarks and frameworks promoting cooperative private action against the online sale of counterfeit goods.