Singapore elected as Vice-Chair of United Nations committee on patents

Mr Alfred Yip at the 30th Session of WIPO's Standing Committee on the Law of Patents
Mr Alfred Yip (right) at the 30th Session of WIPO's Standing Committee on the Law of Patents. (Photo: WIPO)

On 24 Jun, Mr Alfred Yip, Director, Patent Search & Examination, was appointed as the Vice-chair for the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) for a one-year term. This is the second time a Singaporean has taken on the appointment. The SCP serves as an international forum to discuss issues, facilitate coordination and provide guidance concerning progressive international development of patent law.

He shares with us how Singapore is contributing to the SCP, and how we are bringing value to global innovation flows to build the future economy.

Congratulations on your appointment, Alfred! Could you share with us how you came to be appointed? How have you been working with the SCP prior to your taking on the Vice-chairmanship?

I am honoured and humbled to have received the nomination and support of the SCP, which is composed of all member states of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Paris Union. I started attending the SCP in 2016, in the capacity of the Director of the Registry of Patents at IPOS. With my background in patent search and examination, I was able to contribute to both technical and policy aspects of the patent system. Being the Vice-chair means I have to step up my game and be familiar with member states’ priorities so as to play a constructive role in shaping the future work of the committee.

Part of your duties in the absence of the Chair includes directing the discussions, according members the right to speak, and announcing decisions. How will Singapore as Vice-chair be contributing to the committee?

Along with the Chair, Singapore will be able to play a more active role in guiding and shaping the discussions at the SCP meetings. Leveraging the credibility Singapore enjoys on the international stage, we can share our experiences and provide a balanced stance on substantive patent issues that matter the most to member states at all developmental stages.

Since Singapore joined the committee in 2000, how has the delegation contributed to the committee so far?

At the 28th session in July 2018, Singapore co-sponsored a proposal to pursue work on quality of patents. Singapore has also taken the lead to share its experience in improving the quality of the patent grant process and in strengthening capacity building in the last two sessions.

We are also looking forward to share IPOS’ experiences in discussions on cutting-edge topics such as Artificial Intelligence – a topic which has become of key interest among IP offices. It is hoped that the exchange of experiences and practices will be useful to member states at all developmental stages.

As the Vice-chair, I aspire to work closely with the Chair to focus the committee’s efforts towards setting priorities that bring about benefits to the users of the patent system globally.

How has Singapore’s participation in the SCP strengthened our international/bilateral relations?

The SCP is certainly an eye-opener and has presented many opportunities for Singapore to contribute to the international development of patent law. I am thankful for the friendships forged at the SCP meetings and hope that this mutual relationship will be carried over at the international and bilateral level.