Singapore Enhances Funding Scheme to Boost Republic as IP Dispute Resolution Hub

Singapore, 26 March 2019 – To advance Singapore’s position as a leading hub for alternative dispute resolution in the region, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) will extend and enhance its Mediation Promotion Scheme for three years. The updated scheme will benefit businesses and entrepreneurs who opt for mediation as an avenue to resolve their intellectual property (IP) disputes in Singapore.

Effective 1 April 2019, the Enhanced Mediation Promotion Scheme (EMPS) will see an increase in funding from S$5,500 to either S$10,000 or S$12,000 for each mediation case, and allow parties to claim for mediation-related agent fees. (See Annex A for more details.)

Asia has risen to be one of the most innovative regions in the world, with  IP filings growing almost twice as fast at 12.7% compared to global IP filings which was at 7.4% between 2007 and 2017[1]. In anticipation of increasing innovation activities worldwide, Singapore embarked on legislative changes to its IP regime, providing innovation-driven enterprises with greater access to alternatives routes for IP dispute resolution. In November 2017, the Mediation Act came into force, making it easier for mediated settlement agreements to be enforced, further advancing the attractiveness of mediation as a fair and cost effective route for less complex IP disputes.

With the Singapore Convention on Mediation due to be signed in the Republic in August this year, businesses can also look forward to greater assurance that mediated settlement agreements can be relied upon to resolve cross-border disputes. These global developments, coupled with the EMPS, will further promote mediation as a key option in resolving disputes, boosting Singapore’s position as a dispute resolution hub for businesses and innovators to resolve their IP disputes in Singapore and overseas.

Mr Daren Tang (邓鸿森), Chief Executive of IPOS (新加坡知识产权局局长) said: “Innovation is becoming globalised, and increasingly, parties from across different regions have to work together to commercialise their IP. In such an environment, disputes will invariably arise. Singapore is already a hub for alternate dispute resolution and this scheme will position us more strongly to be a hub for the mediation of cross-border IP disputes. Local entrepreneurs and enterprises can also tap on this scheme to have a fair and cost-effective avenue for resolving their domestic IP disputes.”

Similar to the previous arrangement, parties may appoint a mediation institution of their choice, including the World Intellectual Property Organisation Arbitration and Mediation Center, Singapore International Mediation Centre and Singapore Mediation Centre.

Appointment of new IP Adjudicators 

In a separate development, IPOS has appointed two new members to strengthen its IP Adjudicators Panel with effect from 1 April 2019. This year’s appointments see Mr Jason Chan (陈国全) from Amica Law LLC, and Mr Tony Yeo (姚树茂) of Drew & Napier’s Intellectual Property Practice(德尊律师事务所(新加坡),知识产权) , join other distinguished IP legal experts on the panel. The panel gives parties the opportunity to have their cases heard by respectable IP legal experts in Singapore. (See Annex B for list of IP adjudicators.)

Mr Jason Chan, who heads the litigation practice at Amica Law LLC, and has over 25 years of practice focusing on dispute resolution for IP and technology said: “Singapore is a well-regarded legal and business hub, known for its efficiency and transparency. I am pleased to be working alongside peers, and raising Singapore’s profile as an IP dispute resolution hub.”

Mr Tony Yeo, who oversees Drew & Napier’s IP practice as its managing director and head, and has over 27 years of litigation experience in complex IP litigation said: “The appointment of IP Adjudicators from private practice will bring to the table commercial perspectives. This is highly beneficial for Singapore to maintain its lead as Asia’s IP hub as companies look to Singapore as an emerging venue for complex IP dispute resolution. Such appointments also demonstrate a lot of foresight on the part of IPOS."

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[1] Source: WIPO Database

Annex A

Up to S$180,000 will be available in funding for up to 15 cases in the mediation of IP disputes before IPOS.  Parties will be funded up to S$10,000 / S$12,000 per mediation case, if the following conditions are met:

  • There is an existing dispute before IPOS
  • Each party agrees to:
    • Disclose any agent fees incurred from the start to the end of the IPOS proceedings;
    • Give feedback on the mediation experience; and
    • Minimally allow a “shadow” mediator to sit in and observe the mediation.
    • Named publicity, excluding details of the settlement terms
    • Co-pay at least 50% of the agent fees
  • Funding of up to S$10,000 applies where the subject-matter of mediation concerns only Singapore IP Rights (IPRs)
  • Funding of up to S$12,000 applies where foreign IPRs are added to the subject-matter of mediation

The funding applies to:

  • Official administration fees of the mediation institution
  • Mediator’s fees
  • Up to 50% of parties’ mediation-related agent / lawyer fees

Annex B

List of IP Adjudicators from 1 April 2019
(In alphabetical order)

Mr Jason Chan
Director, Litigation and Enforcement Group
Amica Law LLC

Ms Cheng Pei Feng
Senior Assistant Registrar
Supreme Court of Singapore

Mr Lam Chung Nian
Head - Intellectual Property, Technology & Media
Telecommunications and Data Protection Practices
WongPartnership LLP

DJ Lee Li Choon
District Judge
State Courts

Professor David Llewelyn
Deputy Dean
Professor of Law (Practice)
School of Law
Singapore Management University

Dr Burton Ong
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law
National University of Singapore

Mr Tony Yeo
Managing Director, Intellectual Property
Drew & Napier