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