Photo by Peter Nguyen
In today’s globalised age, all companies will need to constantly innovate to keep their competitive advantage and keep ahead. Any complacency or stagnation would have eliminated them from the race. According to the Global Innovation Index, Singapore ranked 5thmost innovative nation out of 126 economies, ahead of USA & Germany, and top innovative nation in Asia. As such, Singapore is a haven for many Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Multi-national corporations (MNCs). For companies to stay competitive in Singapore, they will need to innovate. Most importantly, they need to know how to protect their innovative ideas – their intellectual property.
What is Intellectual Property/Intellectual Property Rights (IP)?
IP refers to the products birthed from human ideas. When a company innovates, these initial ideas are translated into actual products; expressed in various forms – inventions, trademarks, designs or brands. IPs help companies to gain their competitive advantage and safeguard their financial opportunities (e.g. sales, licensing, partnerships etc). These opportunities then provide the future resources to reinvest into further Research & Development (R&D) efforts to stay competitive.
8 Types of Intellectual Property (IP)
There are various types of Intellectual Properties covered below. For further information, please click here.
1. Patent is a right allocated to an invention. It can be expressed as a new process, product or technological improvement to current technology. Upon registration, you hold the exclusive rights to use the patent. No one without your permission would be able to make use of the patent. Patents will be protected 20 years from Date of Filing, renewable yearly. Read more about patent registration here.
2. Trademark (TM) is a sign used for differentiating your goods and services from that of other businesses. Trademarks helps customer to easily identify the business brand; thereby building customer loyalty and protecting your market share. Upon registration, you have absolute control over its use. You can license the trademark to third parties or sell it for monetary value.
Upon successfully registering the trade mark, you can use the ® symbol next to your mark. The ™ symbol informs others the logo or name is being used as a trade mark. However, it may not be officially registered or legally protected under trade mark laws. Read more about Trademark registration here.
3. Copyright protects original works from novels, photographs, films, plays, paintings, computer programs and music pieces. Owning the copyright to the abovementioned would grant you control over its usage and commercial exploits. It prevents others from reproducing, performing, publishing or adapting your work unless with your permission. Without which, there is copyright infringement. To obtain consent from copyright owners, you can either contact the owner directly to negotiate for license or obtain one through the collective management organisation.
4. Registered Design refers to the features of a shape, colours, pattern, configuration, or ornament that grants the article or non-physical product its appearance when applied.
Upon registration, you gain protection of the external appearance of the article or non-physical product. You would also have the right over its use and exploits. The registration also helps protect your market interests by preventing others from copying and the benefit of giving out licenses/sales for monetary returns. Read more about copyright registration here.
5. Geographical Indication (GI) refers to the sign which identifies a product as originating from a particular location that gives the product its unique attribute or reputation. Examples of popular GIs: Wine (Origin: Champagne), Cheese (Origin: Roquefort), Rice (Origin: Hom Mali) GIs can be used by all producers/traders whose products originated from that particular territory.
6. Layout design of An Integrated Circuit is the three-dimensional character of the elements and interconnections of an integrated circuit. An integrated circuit (IC) is an electronic circuit where the elements are integrated into a medium to function as a unit. Silicon is a common medium used for the unit in the solid semiconductor. The "chip" or a "silicon chip" is the product after integrating the circuit into silicon material. "Integrated circuit", "Semiconductor" and "Silicon Chip" are examples of commonly used commercial ICs.
By regulation, any original-layout design created after 15 February 1999 will be protected for 10 years if it is used for commercial purposes within the first five years. If not, it will be protected for 15 years from the date of creation.
7. Trade Security refers to the confidential information not known to public but privy to the company and the individuals possessing the information. This information can include Company’s business operations, customer engagements and financial matters. Trade secrets can be key to sustaining the competitive advantage of the business and its profitability. Generally, people with access to such information are legally obliged by Non-Disclosure Agreements to keep the information confidential.
8. Plant Variety refers to the new discovery/development of a plant species that you can seek protection for. Upon registration, you would have exclusive right to propagate/harvest the material of protected plant. Any production, conditioning, sales, stocking, import or export from third party will require your authorisation. However, this right would not have effect on private and non-commercial uses (e.g. experimental/research purposes). You can choose to license the rights, collect royalties or produce commercially for the plant variety. Read more about Plant Variety registration here.
For the issue on IP, we encourage you to seek professional help in the legal sector. If you require assistance in navigating the regulatory and taxation requirements for your business, contact AM Corporate Services today for a personalised session. Also, check out our free Singapore Business Guide e-book today!
Disclaimer: This article is intended for general information / reading purpose only and should not be treated as a substitute for specific professional advice for any particular situation. While we endeavour to ensure the contents are correct to the best of our knowledge and belief at the time of writing, we do not warrant their accuracy or completeness nor accept any responsibility for any loss or damage arising from any reliance on them.