Patent and Trademarks

Intellectual Property, or IP, can be defined as the manifestation of ideas into a physical form such as original music, works of literature, new technological solutions, revolutionized industrial processes and new inventions. It is classified as an intangible form of asset.

Intellectual Property Rights refer to the legal rights granted to the IP creator, safeguarding them against infringement acts for a certain amount of time. Patents, trademark registration and copyrighting are other forms of IP rights. This means the Intellectual Property cannot be duplicated, manufactured, reproduced, or sold unless the IP owner gives permission, usually for monetary compensation. Inherently, the owner creates a monopoly market of the protected property.

The government grants a patent to an owner, individual or company, who invented a new, practical object in exchange for public disclosure. The patent does include a modification of existing invention or process for literary and art works.

The owner must demonstrate the invention’s uniqueness or it is deemed as prior art, which means the information is public knowledge, even though the information was not patented.

A trademark is a recognizable graphic display (a shape, color, sign, sound or word) that is associated with a particular product and/or services. The owner (a dealer, manufacturer or service provider) can use a trademark to distinguish their products and/or services from competitors. Trademark products and/or services safeguard the owners’ share of the commercial market by creating trustworthy brand names. There are registered and unregistered trademarks, with the difference being the scope of legal protection.

An unregistered trademark, TM, is found at the end of the graphic of the product and/or services that are deemed a business trademark. The unregistered trademark does not offer as much legal protection as a registered trademark but is protected within the geographical area in which the products/services are registered.

Common Law Trademark Rights provide prohibition against commercial misrepresentation of goods’ origin. For example, if an owner markets a bottled drink named REVITALIZETM in Ohio, there is only one trademark in Ohio. Another owner may market canned fruit named REVITALIZETM in Michigan, without trademark infringement. Though, the bottled drink owner could not bring his drinks to Michigan since the trademark name already exists there.

Trademark owners can register their trademark with the local or global registration body to prevent others from misinterpreting the origin of goods and/or services. It is not mandatory to register but may reduce Intellectual Property Rights infringement. The TM symbol is replaced by the Ò symbol. Registering the trademark adds value to the owner’s equity and will gain exclusive product/service rights within its industry. Owners may take legal action for any unauthorized use or infringing acts concerning the trademark.

The service mark symbol, SM, differentiates services (not products) from competitors and grants the same legal rights at trademarks. Service marks are projected through sales marketing, advertising and promotions and can by a symbol, word, logo or sound, like the roaring sound of the MGM lion. Owners can register the marks and enjoy the exclusive rights similar to registered trademarks. Once registered, the marks become Ò.

Why register patents and trademarks?

-         To protect the business name, logos, products and/or services.

-         To protect the owner’s market

-         To gain exclusive rights

-         To enhance the trademark protection

-         To reduce infringement

-         To reduce competitor’s advantage

-         To gain advantage in legal dispute or repercussions

Companies registered in Singapore can register their patents and trademarks with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) at www.ipos.gov.sg.

IPOS is a statutory board under the Ministry of Law and handle all matters related to IP registration in Singapore. Its legislation, administration systems and process comply with the international Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). To register a patent with IPOS, conduct research to ensure there are no design conflicts, using www.epatents.gov.sg.

Check that your invention:

-         Is not publicly known and has not been featured or published in any publications

-         Should be a representation of further advancements to existing process or product.

-         Should be useful and practical for industrial processes

Any invention for the treatment of live things and not industrial application cannot be patented. Inventions cannot be offensive, explicit or anti-social behavior. Patent lawyers or patent agents can help with the process.

You must decide which country you want to protect your patent. The patent requirement and legislation may vary from country to country.

Priority is given to first-to-file basis.

For trademark and service mark registration, an applicant must identify the type of goods and/or services and its classification codes. To avoid infringements, search prior filings for identical registrations. Manual submission is $374; online submission is $341.

Upon receipt, IPOS reviews the application to check for Trade Marks Act compliance. The applicant will receive a date-of-filing and application number. The registry will request needed changes and will withdraw the application if there is no response after the deadline.

The registry will check for any discrepancies. For pharmaceutical products, the registry will make sure the marks have the protected International Non-Proprietary Names (INN), which are generic names provided by the World Health Organization for specific pharmaceutical substances. At this point, if there are defects in the application it will be rejected unless the applicant changes the trademark and reapplies.

With approval, the application must conform to Singapore Trademark Laws. After changes and acceptance, the trademark will be published in the Trade Marks Journal. Contestation of the acceptance may happen within two months of acceptance.  If there is no contestation, the trademark will be registered and the applicant will receive a registration certificate.

 

 


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