Most businesses know that securing your intellectual property (IP) rights as early as possible not only helps develop your brand but can also prevent costly and lengthy legal battles later on. Now that you’re selling in Southeast Asia, you need to secure your trademark, like, yesterday. But where is the best place to do that? I’ll tell you where. Singapore. And that’s not the only reason you should get a Singapore trademark if you plan on selling in Southeast Asia. Let’s get down to business.
Intellectual Property Laws
Singapore created a 10-year plan to become the Global IP Hub in Asia, and it is certainly making its mark. Singapore’s government encourages intellectual property rights, making the country one of the most secure places for IP protection. Singapore’s IP Hub Master Plan protects IP rights with extensive trademark laws, trade secret protections, and industrial design protections. Many large, successful companies, like Microsoft and Google, use Singapore because of their wide-ranging protections.
The Madrid System
Singapore is one of nine countries in Southeast Asia that offers filing under the Madrid System, enabling the filer to register a single application through the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization and get their trademark registered in multiple countries. To register under the Madrid System, you are obligated to maintain your trademark in the country of origin for five years. If there is a lapse in the original trademark registration, the international registration is invalidated (so make sure to maintain it).
In Southeast Asia, only Singapore and Malaysia allow all of the following non-traditional trademarks to be registered:
While unconventional, these marks establish a more profound, unique identity and, in turn, a connection between the brand and the consumer.
Traditional trademarks include:
Shorter Registration Times
Registering a trademark in Singapore typically takes less time than in other Southeast Asian countries – only 1 to 2 years versus 1.5 to 4 years.
Singapore’s centralized location is ideal for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to flourish. It’s the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) most developed economy and offers loads of business opportunities.
What Do I Need for a Trademark in Singapore?
Before you register a trademark in Singapore, there are a few things you need first.
- Does your mark meet the requirements?
Your trademark must:
- Be distinctive
- Distinguish your goods/services from others
- Be able to be represented graphically
Your trademark cannot:
- Be descriptive (giant, best, etc.)
- Be common to your trade
- Be identical or too similar to others
- Offend or promote immoral behavior
- Cause confusion with earlier filed marks
- Misrepresent the quality, nature, or origin of the goods or services
- Did you choose the correct classes for your goods and services?
To register a trademark, you need to determine the classes of your goods or services. IPOS has a classification database to help you officially identify your classes, which may help prevent objections in the future.
- Do you have the application cost?
The cost of the trademark registration varies. Here’s the breakdown:
- S$240/class (filed online using only IPOS pre-approved database descriptions of goods/services)
- S$341/class (filed online with non-database descriptions of goods/services)
- S$374/class (filed manually)
How do I register a trademark in Singapore?
You can register your trademark online or manually at the IPOS office. We recommend doing it online since it’s less expensive and more efficient. You can also go through a local trademark service if you require legal advice and application assistance. The trademark registration process involves four steps.
- Application – The application is submitted. Make sure to check the requirements before applying!
- Examination – An examiner carefully inspects the application to determine its registration. If the application is accepted, it’s published in the Trade Marks Journal. If not, the examiner may ask for amendments (at S$40 per class and trademark).
- Publication – When the trademark is accepted, it’s published in the Trade Marks Journal for two months. If there are no objections, it moves on to registration.
- Registration – If there are no issues, the trademark is registered, and IPOS will send you a certificate of registration.
In Other Words
Singapore is the place to register your trademark. Singapore’s extensive IP laws, acceptance of non-traditional trademarks, and shorter registration times make it a popular spot for many large corporations, and for good reason. So, thinking of selling in Southeast Asia? Don’t make the mistake of losing your IP rights. Secure your brand with a Singapore trademark.