Understanding intellectual property rights of businesses in Singapore

Apr 05, 2024

Intellectual property - A major factor for investors

Innovation is the cornerstone of success and of the Singaporean corporate world, where intense competition is a part of everyday life.

To create a distinct identity, creative business owners are consistently discovering new ways to offer innovative solutions to their clients and attract investors at the same time.

In a world rife with plagiarism and blatant forgery, it is essential to protect one’s intellectual property.

Singapore is home to some of the most ingenious innovations of our time and therefore requires a strong intellectual property policy in place to safeguard its assets and create a distinct mark in the market. 

Companies that have acquired claims to their intellectual property rights have a clear upper hand in today's cutthroat economy.

IP assets are not just a determining factor of a business's present and future revenue, but they also act as a major vote of confidence for investors who wish to find companies that command strong intellectual property protection in Singapore.

Companies with valid intellectual property registration are extremely attractive to potential investors.

Young business owners who prioritize intellectual property rights are favored by investors with the billion-dollar growth and revenue mindset. 

Why is it important for businesses to consider the value of intellectual property?

1. Build a competitive edge

Securing intellectual property can turn any intangible assets into legitimate revenue sources.

IP assets can unlock additional revenue streams via licensing, while simultaneously increasing company valuation and staying one step ahead of your competitors.

Intellectual property protection in Singapore can work wonders for your business, bringing you under the direct notice of eminent investors. It also shields your company against piracy and plagiarism.

2. Attain business goals with a strong IP portfolio

To reap the rewards of securing funding, companies must realize the true value of their IP portfolio.

IP addresses can be considered as different investment opportunities.

This means that sometimes companies can focus solely on conducting research and strengthening intellectual property protection and later shift their attention towards formulating an intellectual property policy and safeguarding trade secrets.

This allows your teams to prioritize and focus on particular areas of intellectual property rights.

3. Build a culture that prioritizes securing intellectual property

Contrary to popular belief, intellectual property rights are not an exclusive responsibility of your company's legal department.

In order to effectively utilize the utmost potential of IP investments, it is crucial for all functions to take active participation in prioritizing and securing intellectual property.

Building an environment that understands the value of IP assets can prove to be a game changer in the long run.

What are the intellectual property laws for businesses in Singapore?

Singapore has one of the most robust and efficient legal systems in the world for intellectual property.

Singapore offers a comprehensive legal framework and structure for adequate intellectual property registration.

Patent Law

All innovative designs and technological processes are protected through the Patents Acts, which is majorly impacted by the United Kingdom’s Patents Act of 1977.

Under this intellectual property law, Singapore patents are protected globally as per the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

Securing intellectual property rights over a patent in Singapore is valid for 20 years, as long as the owner fulfills the annual renewal fees.

Once a patent undergoes successful intellectual property registration, the company can use, sell, or license it.

Copyright Law

The Copyright Act offers intellectual property protection in Singapore to a range of creative works such as novels, computer software, programs, films, art pieces, music, and performances.

The owner of the copyrighted works has exclusive rights over its publication, broadcast, or adaptation.

However, if a company has enforced an intellectual property policy, all works created by their employees during employment are automatically owned by the company.

Trademark Law

Intellectual property rights in Singapore can extend to a brand name or a logo under the trademark law.

Businesses can use these names and logos to distinguish their goods and services from other competitors’ or generic offerings.

While it isn’t mandatory, undergoing intellectual property registration can protect your brand from being misused by others.

A trademark can be used indefinitely as long as it is registered every 10 years.

You can also license it or sell, it or face revocation if the trademark isn’t used within 5 years of registration.

How does a company get affected if it doesn't own or control all of its intellectual property?

When it comes to intellectual property rights, it is imperative for companies to have complete control over their IP assets.

Failure to do so can result in serious issues such as:

1. Lacking an effective intellectual property policy can leave the company vulnerable to outside threats and ransom demands.

Situations where the company has no claim over their intellectual property rights can arise due to a disgruntled ex-employee looking to take advantage of the loopholes in your IP policy.

2. The company is also vulnerable against possible legal trouble caused by an ex-employee in the absence of an intellectual property policy. 

The former employee has an upper hand in this situation and can even put a cease and desist order on the company, stopping them from using their own IP rights as they are still legally owned by the said ex-employee. 

3. Lack of proper IP policy can give your competitors the freedom to plagiarize and steal the intellectual property rights and use them as their own.

This in particular affects a company's reputation and goodwill in the marketplace since their name,, logo design, and trademark is now being used on fake items, pirated by industry rivals.

4. If your business is built on the foundation of a partnership, not having the right intellectual property rights in Singapore allows your partner to leave the company, start a business identical to yours and use your own intellectual property assets against you.

5. Having no control over your intellectual property rights can make any business model appear unreliable and a risky investment.

This can negatively impact your chances of securing funding from powerful investors.

When investors look down upon the value of your company, it further plummets any hopes of reclaiming the same position you once had in the economy. 

Strategies to protect the ownership of your intellectual property in Singapore

Thanks to the steps taken by the Singaporean government to establish the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and the IP Hub Master Plan, intellectual property registration has now become easier than ever.

Businesses can reap the benefits of an ironclad intellectual property protection in Singapore through these key strategies:

Securing intellectual property is not an easy feat. To ensure proper implementation of the rules laid down by the government, invest in an expert guide to lead you through the entire process. 

Do not form associations with any individual or organisation based on general goodwill. Protect your IP assets by diligently checking all contract to safeguard your intellectual property rights. 

Discuss ways to optimize your intellectual property policy with expert lawyers, and founders conducting similar businesses in Singapore.

Only a strong intellectual property policy can protect your IP address against plagiarism and theft. Therefore, do not hesitate to reach out to top Singaporean lawyers and business owners in your field to learn from the best.

Regularly conduct extensive checks on all your existing patents trademarks, and designs to ensure that your business is the sole owner of their intellectual property rights. Process intellectual property registration as soon as your IP assets are finalized.

Intellectual property are an ever-evolving genre of company assets. To keep abreast of the latest developments, conduct meticulous research on intellectual property rights in Singapore through government portal and legal journals.

Although intellectual property rights are a silent contributor to company assets, they are perhaps the most widely recognized customer-facing asset.

With such immense impact, it is the duty of all departments, functions, and management to ensure that the company protects their intellectual property against competitors and theft.

By implementing these strategies, you too can build a formidable IP portfolio and unlock the exponential revenue and growth potential.