by Andrew Au, Trademark Examiner, Registry of Trade Marks
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, 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.
In the Beginning......IPOS Go mobile app mock-up
Andrew Au (2nd row 3rd from left) and the team behind the IPOS Go app