Saturday 14 July 2012

Firms benefiting from strong IP regime

Gas supplier UGS is one example; S'pore rakes in royalties, licensing fees
By Aaron Low, The Straits Times, 13 Jul 2012

AN ATTEMPT by local gas supplier Unique Gas Solution (UGS) to raise productivity more than paid off when a potential new source of revenue was generated in the process.

The firm set out to create customised software that would help cut down the manpower needed for administrative work.

UGS executive director Jessica Ang said it then realised it could also exploit the software.

'The consultants at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) told us that, 'Hey, maybe you can package, get a trademark or patent and then go overseas to market it'. It was something I didn't think about,' she said.

UGS, which has expanded its revenue from $6 million to $30 million in just three years through the constant use of technology, is filing a patent for its software.

It could join the thousands of firms that have benefited from the strong intellectual property (IP) regime in Singapore, a point made by Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang yesterday.

Mr Lim told the inaugural IP week at the Resorts World Convention Centre that UGS is a clear example of how firms can benefit enormously from the strategic use of patents.

He added that Singapore will keep building its capacity and strengths in IP management.

IP has spun off a wide range of activities here and added to the economy over the past decade.

Between 2001 and last year, trade filings have risen by 72 per cent to 35,000 in total while patents filed have gone up by 20 per cent to 10,000.

Royalties and licensing fees have shot up from US$9 billion (S$11.4 billion) in 2006 to US$15.6 billion in 2010, making Singapore the third in the Asia-Pacific, behind Japan and China, in terms of fees collected.

'For Singapore to stay ahead of global competition, we must continue to invest in innovation and assimilate IP management into our development strategies,' said Mr Lim.

To this end, the Government has moved to further strengthen the IP regime by moving towards a 'positive grant' system, which will raise the quality of the IPs granted.

This means that patents will be given only when the application meets all the requirements. Before this change, it could be given without a full examination of its merits.

IPOS chief executive Tan Yih San added that the Government will introduce a new set of programmes later this year to help boost the level of IP skills in the workforce, which the development of the IP industry needs.

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