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Life at IPOS


The Birth of IPOS International by Head Rachel Tan, Manager Nicholas Loh, Manager Peter Oh, Manager Zann Chan of Branding & Communications, IPOS International

Speaking of growth (from left to right): Nicholas, Rachel, Zann and Peter at a terrarium-making team bonding activity

We were there at the birth of IPOS International. Like an expectant – pun intended – parent awaiting and planning for the birth of their child. However, nothing could prepare us for the actual whirlwind of activities this new beginning would entail!

From conceptualising a strong brand identity to creating reams of brand new messaging and marketing material, building an entirely new website from scratch, consolidating over ten separate social media profiles, and preparing to launch our brand with a big bang by a Minister, a Chairman, and a Chief Executive at IP Week – the lead up to and first “full month” of IPOS International definitely saw the team running on creative (and caffeine) overdrive.

Beyond creating stunning designs, videos and engaging copy, a lot of the work we do happens behind the scenes. Things like coordinating and working with multiple stakeholders at all times, developing new marketing and communication processes and SOPs, continually creating different types of content from presentations decks to videos and webinar campaigns are only scratching the surface. Little by little, these tasks add up and take up a significant chunk of our team’s time and effort. This project management aspect of our job is vital in ensuring effective and efficient delivery of the marketing and communications projects increasing the success of our campaigns.

While our job can be challenging at times, (read: running on tight deadlines, messaging lost in translation), it does have its perks. We’re empowered to create a brand loved by all inside and out, and given the creative room to constantly shape and reshape the brand experience for everyone. One year later, the experience of our rebranding remains fresh in our minds, and we’re continually working to solidify IPOS International as a brand to be reckoned with. Following its birth, we’ve now taken on the role as its custodian and nurturer, and witnessing its growth from its days of infancy – from broad strokes on paper, to a full-fledged brand dedicated to helping enterprises grow – makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside like a proud parent.

As the proverb goes, it takes a village to raise a child and the kampong spirit is vibrant and alive across IPOS International. At the end of the day, it’s teamwork that makes growth happen. To quote Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Beyond the satisfaction of a job well done, what makes our work rewarding and fun are the people we get to do it with – our own Branding and Communications team, along with the various business units.

And the people we do it for makes it extra meaningful. One year on, we are heartened that the content and initiatives we create on a daily basis go towards helping enterprises and individuals grow with their intangible assets. We admire the ingenuity of business leaders and recognise their `growing pains’ in the innovation process. This inbuilt DNA to stay fierce, resilient, and risk-taking in the most challenging environments is what inspires us to keep going and growing.

Exemplifying Innovation by Andrew Au, Trademark Examiner, Registry of Trade Marks

Andrew 2
Andrew (2nd row 3rd from left) and the team behind the IPOS Go app

Innovative Culture

I vividly remember lying on my hospital bed (as I was recovering from back surgery for a relapsed slipped disc caused by a sneeze, a long story for another time) when I had my first interaction with innovation from IPOS. I was poring over IPOS’s website, trying desperately to learn what I could as I prepared for my upcoming job interview at IPOS (I know what you are thinking… yes, I must have made quite the impression turning up in a suit and on crutches) for the position of Trademark Examiner when I came across an automated tool developed by IPOS. It was developed using macros in Excel to assist trademark agents to classify large batches of goods and services required as part of the trademark application process. As a tech-loving geek, I was thoroughly impressed with the capabilities and execution of the tool which sought to overcome the existing limitations in the online e-filing system at the time by thinking out of the box.

I was even more amazed to find out later that this tool was the result of a ground-up initiative by a fellow trademark examiner. This was made possible by a culture of innovation where we are given the latitude to dream and supported with ample resources to execute. Our new office is also designed with an open office concept to further facilitate this culture of collaboration and innovation.

Vision to drawing board to reality

“Someday, filing for trademarks should be as easy as shopping on Amazon.” – Daren Tang, former IPOS Chief Executive

Fast forward a few years and I was given the opportunity to be part of a cross-departmental project team comprising colleagues with different fields of expertise including front-line customer managers, IT specialists and trademark examiners. We were tasked to explore our CE’s vision by assessing the technical feasibility of simplifying the trademark application process (which traditionally involves a lengthy form full of legal jargon) and designing a mobile app to ease the IP filing experience for our innovators and entrepreneurs.

It was my first experience designing a mobile app and I was surprised with how we literally started with the drawing board. In the initial phase, it was just the team surrounded by lots of colourful magic markers, construction paper and Post-It notes, which brought out the kid in me. We dreamt and imagined then drew each screen on paper. The “animation” of user interactions with the “app” were achieved by changing and moving the Post-It notes for different elements on the screen as we took videos. It was crude but effective and allowed us to quickly run through many design iterations as we refined the interface and user experience through user testing.

Today, I am proud to say that we have that made that vision a reality and launched our IPOS Go mobile app, but the team is still working hard to constantly refine the customer experience and introduce new features to empower businesses to turn their ideas into assets.

Reaching Out to a New Audience during the Circuit Breaker Period by Jasvinder Singh, Head (Operations), IP Academy, IPOS International

Jasvinder (Front Row 3rd from Right) bonding with the IPOS International colleagues over tea

The Covid-19 pandemic was unexpected and caused fear, uncertainty and panic. Although we have always enjoyed the comforts of political and social stability as Singaporeans, we knew that we were facing something dire.

We had to very quickly adapt to new work arrangements, find best solutions for supporting our families and put on the hat of social responsibility overnight. It wasn’t easy. It's only now that we realise how much we take the comforts we have for granted.

I recall looking at our annual programme numbers and thinking that the IP Academy would have achieved new heights if not for the pandemic as we were well on our way to hitting a record number of participants for FY19. However, I will always remember a piece of advice someone once gave me - everything happens for a reason. When one window of opportunity closes, we are bound to find a new one that opens up to a brand-new view.

During the pandemic, Singapore as-a-whole faced much uncertainty and many businesses were affected. IPOS International had a wealth of knowledge on Intellectual Property and this was shared through seminars and courses. As an act of social responsibility, it was decided that we needed to do something for Singapore during this difficult period. Thus, a free online course was launched for businesses in Singapore that would help increase awareness of IP and help individuals and businesses build up their capabilities. This free course was run in partnership with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and has achieved about 3,000 sign-ups within 2.5 months.

One word clearly describes the success of this course - Teamwork. Without our management's astute guidance and help from colleagues in various departments such as Branding & Communications, Business Development, Corporate Services and the IP Academy, as well as various departments from IPOS such as Human Capital, it would not have been a success. We have received many emails from the public expressing their appreciation for this initiative and this would not have been possible without the teamwork and camaraderie that existed within the IPOS Family.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

The spirit of IPOS and IPOS International is indeed strong and I believe that there is no storm strong enough that will derail any effort when the IPOS Family puts their hearts and minds to it.

We work hard together, and we play hard together.

IP Week @ SG Goes Digital for the First Time! Ira Wong, Assistant Director, Partnership & Programme

Ira (1st from Right) and members of the 2019 IP Week Organising Committee sharing a laugh during break-time before the event

IP Week @ SG 2019 was an eventful conference where steadfast friendship was once again forged amongst colleagues as well as attendees. As I sit at my home desk typing out this article, attempting to trace the timeline of how our organisation's annual flagship conference had metamorphosed from a physical event into a virtual, fully online event, it did not fail to impress upon me yet again, the vicissitude of life and man's fortitude.

It was but a mere three months ago in March, when it became fully evident to the IP Week organising committee (of which I am part) that the global Covid-19 situation would disrupt the well-oiled machinery we had in place to run the event. As we scrambled in our professional roles to mitigate the inconveniences caused to our stakeholders and partners with the change in event format, we had concertedly reorganised our home-space and our personal daily routines to adapt to the new work-from-home format. 

At this juncture, when I look back on what first appeared to me as a chaotic, haphazard patchwork of processes being cobbled in place by our team to handle the crisis, it comes as a surprise that what we had actually effected is in fact akin to an orchestral group performing improviso! It thus brings much delight to my heart, that I am part of a team that looks out for each other, complements one another's deficiencies, as well as accommodating our mutual idiosyncrasies.

It would be another two months before the actual event is held, but till then, kudos to the team for making it to the halfway mark. I am sure that together we will be able to make this a memorable event. 

Way to go, Team IPOS! 💪

Interested to find out more about IP Week, visit our website at

Hear from our Interns!
Yong Hui Ting: How having a front seat in an IP Office has shown me IP permeates every aspect of life!

Embarking on the 3-month internship programme with the Media & Communications Department (MCD) at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) was one of the best decisions I made in 2020, the year the world got hit by a mega pandemic that disrupted all our lives.

When COVID-19 hit Singapore, many of my peers struggled to find jobs. Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which hire the most number of employees, were hit the hardest. I was lucky to be offered a 3-month internship with IPOS, where I grew to learn much about the IP industry in Singapore and the world.

Before I began my internship with IPOS, I knew close to nothing about IP. I am grateful to my supervisor, Gracie Xiang, for taking me under her wings. She gave me the opportunity to understand and learn how IP can protect businesses and spur innovations.

I was given the opportunity to work on press releases and media pitching for IPOS as we worked on keeping Singapore’s IP climate on par with the rest of the world so that businesses can benefit from an increased connectivity and IP cooperation globally.

Even though I was just an intern, I am proud to have been with the team when Mr Daren Tang, then Chief Executive for IPOS, was appointed Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). News of his appointment brought about a great sense of pride in the Office and everyone worked hard, building on the good work that Mr Tang had done.

I too, felt the need to push myself in learning and expanding my knowledge so I could better serve the Office. I went on to undertake an online course on Drug Commercialization offered by University of California, San Diego. I completed the course within a month and found myself better able to contribute more new ideas to the Media & Communications team as we worked on bridging the information gap between business owners, the public, and IP regulating bodies.

I am thankful for all the guidance I received at IPOS, for pushing me to grow and learn even as the world finds its way in adapting to a new normal. My time with IPOS has also shown me the importance of IP, how it can safeguard our interests, help businesses stay afloat and prevail stronger than before.


yong hui ting

Yong Hui Ting, intern with the Media & Communications Department from May to August 2020

Megan Wong: What surprised me most working in an IP Office!

During my summer holidays in 2020, I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), under the Registries of Patents, Designs & Plant Varieties Protection (PDPVP). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my internship had been shortened by a month, and I had to work from home. This had saddened me greatly, for I had looked forward to meeting and interacting with my colleagues. Yet, despite the distance between us, my colleagues still made me feel welcomed and cherished.

Initially, I had been worried that the lack of experience I had in Intellectual Property (IP) would hinder my progress. But, not to fear, for I was given ample time to familiarise myself with the different IP rights and their uses. It had been incredibly interesting to delve into the international agreements and IP programmes available! Additionally, under my supervisor’s recommendation, I had attended short courses and seminars, emerging with an unexpected desire to learn more.

I had also been assigned two projects, the first of which regarded the impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the IP system. With not much prior knowledge on AI, this project had been an eye-opener! I was quickly absorbed by heated discussions about the effects and challenges that AI poses to the IP system. Issues like, “Can an AI be an inventor?” or “Who should we credit for AI-related works?” were emerging rapidly, and there was limited time to react to them. This had prompted me to reflect deeply on the original rationale of the IP system, and the ways it could be adapted to handle the onslaught of AI technology. Additionally, I had exercised much critical thinking to recommend ways for such issues to be handled.

The second project involved fast-track/accelerated IP programmes, which are programmes that enable people to obtain IP rights in a shorter amount of time, and entailed research on efforts to make the IP regime more innovator-friendly. Brainstorming recommendations for Singapore’s IP system had been challenging, but fun! I had a great time discussing the pros and cons with my supervisor and colleagues.

All-in-all, throughout my internship, I kept uncovering new aspects of the IP system that I had never known before. Also, one of the things that had stuck with me is a piece of advice given to me by my supervisor. When he was briefing me about the projects, he had explained that he did not want to provide me with too detailed a guideline, for that would restrict me to think only within the given lines and boundaries – he wanted me to think beyond them. That had challenged me to be creative and to not limit myself to convention.

Needless to say, this internship had been an enriching and priceless journey. Apart from acquiring invaluable report-writing tips, and insightful knowledge about AI and IP, I had also gained a fantastic mentor and a fruitful and wonderful experience!

                                  megan wong

Megan Wong, intern with the Registries of Patents, Designs & Plant Varieties Protection from June to August 2020