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