Guide to Singapore Trademark Registration
The new Singapore Trade Marks Act came into force in 1998 in order to meet the conditions laid down by the Paris Convention focused on Protection of Intellectual Property. The registration of trademarks in Singapore comes under the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), which is a statuary board established by the Ministry of Law.
Singapore currently complies with the following global conventions in this domain:
- The Paris Convention
- Madrid Protocol
- Berne Convention
- Patent Cooperation Treaty
- Nice Agreement
- Budapest Treaty
- WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
- WIPO Copyright Treaty
- The UPOV Convention or the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants
- Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks
The objective behind this guide is to introduce the Trade Marks Act of Singapore and the process of registering the trademark in Singapore.
Main Features of the Singapore Trademark Act
Registering a trademark may not be a mandatory requirement under Singapore law, but getting your trademark registered can add significant value to your business name and operations. When you file for registration, you receive the following rights:
- Ownership rights
- Preventing anyone from using a similar mark without your permission
The main features of the Trade Marks Act of Singapore are as follows:
- Registration of trademark under the Singapore Trade Marks Act remains effective only in Singapore. If you want to protect your trademark rights in overseas markets, it will be required to register your trademark in those markets or register under the international laws under the Madrid Protocol. You can file the international application via IPOS in Singapore once you have registered your trademark in Singapore. This is possible because Singapore is also a signatory to the Madrid Protocol. You can get more useful information by checking Worldwide Trademark Registration via Singapore Trademark Office.
- It is important that a trade mark registered in Singapore is designed to be represented graphically. It could be a name, numeral, word, letter, device, signature, ticket, label, heading, color, shape, a packaging design or a combination of any of these. Contrary to the requirements in jurisdictions such as the U.S., the trademark law in Singapore doesn’t require users to provide proof of use when filing for registration.
- The Trade Marks Act doesn’t impose any time limit on filing for trademarks registration. But a litigation process can be moved against trademark violation only if the trademark is already registered. The registration of trademark becomes effective from the date of filing the application. A registered trademark remains valid for a period of 10 years after which it has to be renewed every 10 years.
- The launch of new service mark registration has led to the extension of classes from International Classification No. 35 to 45. With the service marks being included, it is possible to search earlier rights with the following provisions – with regard to trade marks field on goods, the services that match closely with the goods that have been applied for registration, and with regard to service marks, the inspection will cover trademarks for goods that have close relation to such services.
Process of Trademark Registration
The Singapore Registrar of trademarks examines every application for trademark registration to check if the trademark can be registered or not. The process of registration can last from 6 to 18 months, which will vary on many factors such as any complications or objections.
It is possible for an owner to directly file an application for trademark registration to the Singapore Trademark Office. However, because of the complex nature of the documentation and the process, it is recommended that you file the application through a professional service.
There are many benefits of engaging such a professional firm:
- The chances of your application getting declined or returned for correction will be eliminated.
- Having a professional service at your behest will help you respond properly to any kind of clarifications asked by the Registrar of Trademark or to any objections raised during the process. This can help in increases the likeliness of making a successful trademark registration.
- It will help you save a lot of time and efforts required in meeting all the requirements.
The steps involved in the registration of Singapore trademark are listed in the following lines. If you engage a professional service, they will handle most of these steps.
1. Identification of the class of goods or services
You will have to determine the kind of goods for which you need the trademark. There are different classes for different kinds of goods. The goods are classified under the International Classification of Goods & Services (ICGS) that lists classes from 1 to 34. Services are registered under the classes 35 to 42.
It is essential that the application for trademark registration is field under the accurate class. If you deal in a larger variety of goods, it may be required to file applications under different classes. Similarly, if you are applying for a service mark, it will be required to determine the kind of service that needs to be registered. A fresh application will be required if you classify the goods or services in the wrong class.
2. Research for Potential Conflicts
The application fees for registering trademarks are non-refundable. Make sure that before you file an application of registration, you have searched the current trademarks in the records of the Singapore Registry of Trade Marks. Check and ensure that no earlier trademark has any similarity to the one you want to use. This should be taken even more seriously if there is something matching in the same field of business.
3. Filing the Application
The application for registration of trademark could be sent to the Registry of Trade Marks via mail or by hand. However, it is also possible to file the application online. The fees for filing of trademark registration under one class is SGD 374 [via mail or hand] and SGD 341 [via online]. Make sure that all the goods or services you list in your application comply with the ICGS.
4. Checking Application of Compliance and Completeness
After the receipt of the trademark application, the Trademarks Office will check it for the following criteria:
- The application must be complete
- Compliance with the Trade Marks Act
- Clearance of all the essential fees
Once the application is filed, the office will note the date of filing and assign an application number.
In case of any objections or corrections, the Registry notifies the applicant and provides a specific time period for correction. In case there is no response within this period, the office will consider the application to be withdrawn.
5. Checking Conflicts with Current Trademarks
After the completion of the above-mentioned steps, the Registrar conducts a thorough search to determine any conflicting trademarks, conformation to the ICGS and conflicts with any geographic names. If the goods come under pharmaceutical classes, the Registry of Trade Marks additionally checks if the mark has any name that resembles any International Non-Proprietary Name (INN). The World Health Organization furnishes the INNs which are generic terms of pharmaceutical substances.
The application for trademark registration is rejected if the Registrar finds any objections during the above-mentioned research. The applicant can then make a fresh application by making necessary modifications or amendments in the trademarks.
6. Checking Conflicts with Law
Once you have passed through the previous step, the Trademark Office will check the application to determine if the trademark can be registered under the Singapore Trademark Laws or not. It will be ascertained that the trademark doesn’t fall into a category that is not allowed under Singapore law.
Again the office will notify about any objections and provide a specific time for resolving the objections.
7. Public Notification via Advertisement
Once the trademark is examined for conflicts with law, the applicant is informed about the approval of the application and it will be published in the Trade Marks Journal for public information. An interested party has a time period of 2 months from the publication for raising any objection against the registration of the trademark. There are many grounds on which an opposition may be raised. This could include similarity to a pending or an already registered trademark.
When the trademarks office is in receipt of an objection from an opposing party, it informs the application and asks for response through a counter statement for resolving the objection. The office will hear both the parties for coming to a final decision about the application.