It was my privilege to be an intern with IPOS. It allowed me to acquire a broad and deep understanding about IP.
IP offices conventionally function as registrars. Most registrars facilitate the registration of patents, designs, and trademarks. These are the registrable IPs in most countries. However, I discovered that there are also other lesser known registrable or non-registrable IPs. When registrars expand their scope of registrable IPs, it creates more business opportunities. I learnt this from a Brown Bag session on Temasek Rice by the Registry of Plant Varieties Protection. After years of effort, researchers from Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory successfully created a variety of rice that could grow in tough conditions. The building of local PVP examination capability by IPOS has allowed this research finding to be registrable as an IP. IPs are not only restricted to patents, trademarks, and registered designs.
Furthermore, for innovation-led economies like Singapore, IP can play an important role to generate revenue. This means that IP is not only at the forefront of protecting ideas, but commercialising ideas as well. Commercialising IP, however, is not easy. This requires the help from various subject matter experts. This includes academics, lawyers, and businessmen. Furthermore, different IPs are used in different markets. It requires analysts who are familiar with both IP and markets to provide good strategies. How can different stakeholders be included? This can be achieved by creating a national IP ecosystem. I saw the importance of this framework in IP Week @ SG in August 2019. It was an annual event where stakeholders from Singapore and the world came together to discuss how they can contribute to the IP ecosystem. Each participant had a different background. By hearing their opinions on IP, I could see how different stakeholders can come together and commercialising IP effectively.
It is not only important to have a strong national IP ecosystem. We can better manage IP with strong bilateral and international collaborations. A strong international IP regime creates new connections between businesses and researchers from different countries, paving the way for more collaboration opportunities. The significance of collaborations became clear to me in the meetings with international stakeholders. They expressed their interests in collaborations and explained how they can be beneficial not only to businesses but to create social good as well.
After my three months with IED, I better understood the importance of being professional and efficient. During bilateral engagements, officers in the Public Service represent not only the government but the country. Being professional ensures officers leave a favourable impression on the foreign delegates. Furthermore, as IED officers by nature have a busy profile, being efficient helps to be productive. Nonetheless, IED and IPOS have a supportive working environment. Everyone supports each other and keep each other going. The management team is extremely understanding and guides everyone, including interns like me, patiently. This makes working in IPOS a pleasant experience. I ever asked my cluster colleagues what kept them going in IPOS. They unanimously said, “it’s the people”.
By the end of the internship, I saw IP in a different perspective. It is not just a point of contention in the US-China trade dispute. It is also an important intangible asset that creates new research and business opportunities.
Justin (middle) and colleagues from the International Engagement and Partnership & Programme teams