Industrial designers will soon obtain greater assurance in protecting their designs in Singapore when the Locarno Agreement enters into force on 19 March 2020. With this, Singapore is now signatory to 15 World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) treaties, marking a continued commitment to support global innovation flows through the active harmonisation of our intellectual property (IP) policies and legislations against international standards.
The Locarno Agreement is an international standardised classification system for industrial designs – a multilateral treaty administered by WIPO. Also known as the Locarno Classification, it simplifies the search process across different industrial designs databases and helps applicants identify the specific class their work belongs to when they file for industrial designs protection. With the accession to the Locarno Agreement, Singapore joins other industrial designs powerhouses such as Japan, Germany and Italy as a contracting party to the WIPO administered treaty. As a member of the treaty, Singapore will have a seat at the appropriate WIPO platforms to influence the development of the Locarno Classification for the interests of the design community in Singapore.
Mr Daren Tang (邓鸿森), Chief Executive at Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (新加坡知识产权局局长), said: “IP is an increasingly important input for growth which then positively impacts jobs, growth and social vibrancy. At IPOS, we are committed to ensuring that our IP laws are progressive, and our processes are aligned to international standards and practices to help our designers better access markets in the region and beyond. As the first in the ASEAN bloc to join the Locarno Agreement, we hope to work closely with our ASEAN and global counterparts to build stronger linkages, so that businesses will find it easier and cheaper to file and gain industrial designs protection for their work across countries.”
Ms Winnie Tham (譚慧儀), Director at Amica Law LLC (Amica Law LLC 的董事), said: “It is a long-awaited but definitely welcomed move. With the accession to the Locarno Agreement, Singapore is formally aligned to the international standards and practices. Industrial designs applicants will be able to avoid discrepancies on classification and this, in turn, will make it simpler for them to check on classification issues in seeking for industrial designs protection.”
Mr Desmond Tan (陈文明), President of the Association of Singapore Patent Attorneys (ASPA) (新加坡专利代理人协会主席) and Principal at FPA Patent Attorneys (FPA 专利代理人主任), shared that: “My clients are happy with this development as they do not need to revisit the categorisations for their Singapore applications, thus allowing for more conformity in their respective designs portfolios.”
According to the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2019 report, global industrial designs applications doubled between 2007 and 2018 to reach 1.02 million in 2018. This is consistent with the industrial designs filing trends in ASEAN, which grew by almost 15% between 2011 to 2017. In 2019 alone, Singapore saw a 16% year-on-year increase in applications for international designs registrations.