Intellectual Property Law of Singapore: Categories, Development & Registration

Intellectual Property Law prevents others from copying your ideas and creative works or your company’s identity. This will also stop you from being able to make money from your efforts in generating the IP.


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    What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

    Intellectual property (IP) is a term used to describe physical property that is created by human imagination or creativity. It encompasses creations, creative works, and business goodwill. However, it doesn’t include physical items that are created by physical exertion.

    For instance, the content of a book, such as the characters and story, could be IP However, the book itself is made of paper and ink is not IP. There are numerous kinds of IP that can be protected in different ways and with various rights.

    What is Intellectual Property Law?

    Intellectual Property Law grants IP its legal status as property the definition of key elements like:

    • It is the owner of the IP;
    • If the IP must be registered or not;
    • The scope of protection for the IP as well as
    • How can owners assert their rights against violators?

    Without Intellectual Property Laws, there’s no way to prevent others from copying your ideas and creative works or your company’s identity. This will also stop you from being able to make money from your efforts in generating the IP.

    Categories of Intellectual Property Law

    Different kinds of IP require different kinds of protection, which results in a variety of types of IP. This article will cover the more typical kinds of IP in detail and gives brief descriptions of the more specific types of IP:

    • Trademarks
    • Copyright
    • Patent
    • Confidential information/trade secrets
    • Registered designs

    1. Trade trademarks

    What exactly is a trading name?

    The term “trademark” refers to a symbol employed by a business to signal that a product or service is provided by the business. For instance, a pair of shoes sporting a “tick” or Nike “tick” symbol on it is a product of the Nike company, or an entity authorized through Nike to use the trade trademark.

    There are certain rules for the types of signs that can be registered as trademarks. For instance, the symbol:

    • Should be able to create a visual representation
    • It must be distinct
    • Should not be the same as any existing trademark in a similar field, or identical to an existing trademark within the same industry in a way that the public could be confused.

    Does a trading name require registration?

    A trademark does not have to be registered to be protected from the passing off tort that allows proprietors of businesses in Singapore to stop other businesses from falsely claiming their products are related to yours. 

    But it is difficult to prove this tort is difficult in comparison to proving the infringement of a trademark, and there are additional advantages of registering a trademark. Its registration is valid for 10 years but it can be renewed for additional 10 years, without having to pay an annual renewal cost.

    How do you make money from your business’ trademarks?

    A trademark adds business value by generating goodwill by simply using it often in business. As time passes, your company’s products, services, and reputation are associated with the trademark and this goodwill for your business is intrinsically beneficial.

    For instance, it is the “Nike” trademark for clothing and sportswear a brand that was built due to the popularity of Nike products as well as advertising. This has led to the Nike brand becoming worth more than 30 billion dollars at the time of 2020.

    Another option for businesses to make money from their trademark is by granting a license to other companies for the cost.

    2. Copyrights

    Is copyright enforceable? & what is its protection?

    Copyrights are a way to protect the creative expression of ideas. It also permits the person who owns the copyright to stop other people from copying their unique expression of the concept. 

    The most common use of the copyright is to safeguard works like music film images, designs, and books. It also safeguards computer code and specifically arranged data.

    However, it doesn’t cover works that lack a creative element, such as the replica of an already-published work or an alphabetically organized database. Although creating an exact duplicate of a piece of work and manually sorting the database in alphabetical order takes some time and effort but there isn’t any originality required, and neither effort is protected under copyright.

    However, if changes were made while copying an earlier piece of work or the database was sorted uniquely or innovatively, the resultant work could be protected under copyright.

    How do you think the duration of copyright protection will last?

    The time frame for the protection of copyright is dependent on the type of copyrighted work. The protection of copyrights for musical, dramatic, literary, or artistic works runs for 70 years after the author’s death. For films, sound recordings as well as performances, the copyright protection is valid for 70 years starting beginning from the day of the publication.

    An exhaustive list of rights is provided within our post about Copyright Law.

    Do copyrights require to be registered?

    Copyright is not required to be registered. It automatically becomes part of any creative work.

    How do you make money from the copyright rights of your company?

    A business may profit from the copyright of its employees by offering copies of the work to viewers or other businesses who want to see or use the copyrighted content while controlling who is permitted to copy the content. This is the way film, literature, and even music are usually sold.

    Similar guidelines apply to electronic copies as well as computer programs. In these cases, the business can offer an electronic copy however, it will prohibit you from making any more copies to stop you from sharing the software or the file.

    3. Patents

    What’s the definition of a patent? And what are the benefits of it?

    Patents can be granted to safeguard the latest inventions and grant the holders a monopoly on the inventions it covers. This means that, for the period that the patent is in force, there will be no way for any other company can create, use or replicate an identical invention without the approval of the patent’s owner.

    The patent application must cover all relevant features of your invention and the information is made available to the public once it is made public in the patent journal within 18 months of the date of the filing. 

    But, since you’re granted a monopoly, the public can’t access these details until after the term of the patent expires.

    What is the length of time an invention last?

    Patent protection is valid for a maximum of 20 years starting from the time the application was submitted and subject to renewing fees that must be paid.

    Once the patent’s term expires, the general public, as well as competing companies, are free to immediately create, utilize or duplicate the idea disclosed by the patent.

    Does a patent have registration?

    Patent owners do not have to register the patent, as protection for the patent is granted after a successful application for the patent. the information about the patent is automatically recorded in the patent registry.

    How can you earn money from your patents for your business?

    There are at minimum two ways to make money from your patents.

    In the beginning, you could make the patentable invention and sell or license it for a fee. If, for instance, you have a patent for a brand new material, you could decide to create and market the product yourself.

    You can also either license or sell the patent and allow other people to develop the same invention. In the example above the process would be to collect the cost from another company that allows them to make and sell the product.

    4. Confidential trade secrets and information

    What is considered to be confidential information?

    Trade secrets or confidential information refers to information protected by restricting access to it, as well as clauses that prohibit disclosure included in the contract. For instance, it is the case that the Coca-Cola formula is considered to be a highly-protected trade secret.

    If the owner is concerned about confidential data may sue the person who has disclosed the confidential data for breaking the confidentiality provisions stipulated in the agreement in addition to for torts arising from breach of confidence.

    What is the length of time a trade secret lasts?

    Because the trade secrets are protected through a contract, it could last for years, based on the length of confidentiality stipulated by the document.

    If the trade secret becomes available in the open, any protections are effectively lost as the law does not impose any requirement for the public to not divulge the data.

    What can you do to make money off your data?

    The way confidential information is commercialized is contingent on what is the information. When the information is confidential and is about the design of a product or manufacturing method, the company could utilize the information to develop the product and maintain an advantage in the market.

    In addition, as with patents, confidential information could also be sold or licensed to different companies. However, this comes with risk since the business licensing the information may inadvertently violate its confidentiality obligation by disclosing information to the public and at that point, the security will be lost forever.

    5. Registered Designs

    What is an official design?

    A Registered design may be granted to protect aesthetic designs that are related to products manufactured. But, it’s restricted to designs that are cosmetic and do not apply to solely practical designs, such as chairs with four legs to provide stability.

    Registered designs don’t encompass designs needed to make the product compatible with the larger product, for example, an automobile headlight with specific design requirements to be compatible with the specific car model.

    As with patents, registering a design rights grant you a monopoly over the design or creation of products using it. It means only the proprietor of the design registered may manufacture, import, sell, or license products that use designs registered under the.

    How long will a design that is registered last?

    A registered design can last for a maximum period of 15 years. The initial period is five years, but it can be renewed for another 5 years or two times.

    Does a design have to be registered to be secured?

    Design must be registered in order to protect it as an official design. However, a unique design could be protected under copyright law and therefore is not required to be registered for protection.

    The most significant reason to register your design it grants you monopoly rights over the design, which is a far more powerful option than the right to stop copying that is granted by copyright.

    How do you earn money from the designs that you have registered?

    Similar to patents, a registered design can be used for commercial purposes through the production of products using the design and selling the products, or through license or selling the rights to utilize the design to other companies.

    Development and Registration of Intellectual Property Law

    In 2013 the Singapore government announced their intellectual Property (IP) Hub Master Plan, a 10-year roadmap to make the tiny island nation the leading location to develop, register and protect intellectual property.

     In line with the plan, the Singapore government has proposed the creation to tax an IP-Box scheme like those in the Netherlands and Ireland. In addition to the IP-Box tax program and the Master Plan, the Master Plan suggests enhancements in the training of its employees to build IP and also in the institutions to secure this IP. 

    The majority of these enhancements are targeted at IPOS. Intellectual Property Office in Singapore (IPOS). In the implementation of its Master Plan, Singapore intends to become the world’s leading destination for the development of IP as well as registration and protection.

    The Singapore government supports the development as well as registration of IP by offering substantial financial incentives and an advantageous tax regime. For instance, Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) is provided through International Enterprise Singapore and aims to assist Singapore-based businesses in defraying part of their expenses (including IP costs) when expanding outside of Singapore. 

    The program offers to fund up to 70% of the costs for activities that are eligible (capped at S$20,000 for each company per new market beginning 1 April 2020 until the 31st March of 2023) and includes filing international IP applications.

    How Does Intellectual Property Law Help Businesses Protect and Monetize their Assets?

    Some businesses may not utilize all kinds of IP. However, the majority of businesses require trademarks to ensure that the public can have an accurate indication of the origin of goods or services with which they’re utilizing. 

    To market your business’ IP is crucial to first determine which categories might be the most pertinent. Examples of how various business types can make use of IP are:

    Restaurant businesses

    A restaurant’s business relies heavily on its trademark to help customers identify the establishment, and the restaurant will be able to build a reputation for the quality of its food as well as its service.

    In addition, it could depend on confidential information when the protection of its recipes. Even though the content of the recipe is protected by copyright, cooking dishes using the recipe is not an infringement of copyright since the copyright is not able to guarantee the outcome that is created by following the recipe’s guidelines.

    Pharma company

    A pharmaceutical company may be relying on patents to protect the new products it develops. It could use confidential information to safeguard products that are being developed to stop competitors from coming up with similar drugs and getting patent protection first.

    On the other hand, private information doesn’t help secure products that are already in the marketplace. This is due to the fact that drugs can be reverse-engineered and sold to third-party companies which would eventually destroy the privacy of the drug’s formula.

    Design Firm

    A design studio will rely on copyright rights to protect their designs and to prevent customers from ordering an image and copying it and not paying the company.

    The company’s customers can benefit from protected designs registered by the company for the production of products that bear the design.

    Software firm

    A software company is likely to depend on a combination of patents, copyrights, and confidential data to secure its software.

    Copyright is a part of the code of the program, so software companies can rely on copyright protections to stop other people from copying its code. This also applies to downloading the code without authorization.

    The software could also be patentable or kept secret in the case of closed-source and is not designed to be available to the general public.


    Singapore offers one of the most secure legal regimes to protect IP rights. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2019 has ranked Singapore second worldwide, and the top in Asia in terms of its IP security framework. 

    A number of the most prominent companies that are focused on IP have chosen Singapore as their preferred place for R&D because of these protections.

    Well, if you want to know more about Intellectual Property Law, we are ODINT Consultancy, here to help you out in each & every step of yours.


    According to Singapore’s Copyright Act, it is criminal for a business or individual to engage in willful copyright violation.

    Intellectual Property law is a set of laws used to safeguard and enforce the rights of inventors and the holders of ideas, inventions designs, music, or other creations called “intellectual property.”

    5 common types of IPs are:-

    • Copyrights.
    • Trademarks.
    • Patents.
    • Trade Design.
    • Trade Secrets.