Singapore Qualifies as ASEAN Hub for Fast Track Patent Applications

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On September 1st, Singapore became the first nation in ASEAN qualified to accept and process fast track patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Open to domestic and international clientele, new services provide businesses an efficient and cost effective alternative to preexisting PCT offices located in China, India, Japan, and Korea.

Administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the PCT enables businesses to seek patent protection through a single international patent application valid in 148 countries. As a PCT office, Singapore’s capabilities are extended to:

  • International Search Authority (ISA)
  • International Preliminary Examination Authority (IPEA)

In addition to ISA and IPEA services, Singapore also joins a select group of 19 IP offices worldwide that have been appointed as International Authorities for the PCT. With this distinction, Singapore is tasked with implementing and reporting on quality management systems for its services, which are then used as a basis for international best practice. It’s most recent annual report from 2014 was compiled in preparation for the rollout of its new service offerings.


Those who stand to gain the most from the introduction of ISA and IPEA services are companies domiciled within the city state. PCT applications by Singapore based companies have risen by 498% since 1999, reaching a total of 838 in 2013. With local demand surpassing applications by all other ASEAN states combined, a Singapore based PCT hub is optimally located to improve ease of access for patent applicants throughout the region.

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Apart from local businesses, the first international applicants to gain access to ISA and IPEA services will be those from Vietnam, Mexico, Brunei, Japan, and Laos which signed bilateral agreements with Singapore at IP Week 2015, held in early September. 

For many international businesses, Singapore is projected to be the regional office of choice for IP processing. While average turnaround times for regional alternatives stand at around three years, Singapore has committed to processing many of its requests in as little as 60 days. In addition to efficient service, some applications may also be eligible for a 75% rebate on processing costs.

Despite Singapore’s dominance of ASEAN’s IP landscape, PCT applications have become increasingly common throughout the region. With an average of 18 applications being submitted in 1999, ASEAN’s demand for PCT services has increased six fold in recent years – the average ASEAN member applying for 128 patents in 2013.

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For ASEAN’s budding entrepreneurs in particular, PCT applications present a cost effective way to secure innovation and increase profit. In addition to providing a single patent valid throughout the world, the PCT has made special accommodations for developing economies. As of July 1st, 2015, applicants from states with a GDP less than 25,000 qualify for a 90% reduction in international filing, supplementary search handling, and general handling fees.

Implications for IP in ASEAN

While investors have traditionally been concerned over lagging intellectual property protection in many ASEAN states, Singapore’s appointment as an international authority for the PCT should help to substantiate gains made by ASEAN states in recent years.  The signing of MOUs with several universities to increase IP education, formalized governmental cooperation through the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Intellectual Property, and upcoming ASEAN IPR Action plan for 2016-2020 should ensure that the benefits of Singapore’s increased cooperation with WIPO are shared among ASEAN members. 

For more information on Singapore’s PCT services and the how they can be tailored to your business, please contact IP specialists at Dezan Shira & Associates.


Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email or visit

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