National IP Protocol FAQ

When did the National IP Protocol take effect? Are there any transitional provisions?

The National IP Protocol took effect on 26 April 2018. It replaces the previous National Framework on IP Principles for Publicly Funded R&D. There are no transitional provisions.

Is there a need to amend agreements entered into before the National IP Protocol took effect?

No. The National IP Protocol does not have retrospective effect, nor does it require existing agreements to be amended.

If my agency started negotiating an agreement before the National IP Protocol took effect, but it has not been signed. Can we continue to use the agreement?

Agencies should ensure, to the extent that is reasonably possible given the stage of the negotiations, that their agreements align with the principles of the National IP Protocol. That said, Agencies are advised to exercise discretion for such transitional arrangements. For instance, there is no need to re-open closed issues to prevent delays to the commencement of research collaborations.

Who (which agencies) does the National IP Protocol apply to?

The National IP Protocol applies to all public agencies.

The National IP Protocol also applies to all R&D activities where Ministries, Organs of State, Departments, Statutory Boards, Institutions of Higher Learning, publicly-funded research institutes, academic medical centres and hospitals, and other Government or public corporatised entities (“Public Agencies”) use, provide, or help to provide public funds to support these R&D activities or the funding of these R&D activities.

The National IP Protocol does not apply to privatised subsidiaries of Ministries or Statutory Boards. That said, to maximise value creation and capture for Singapore, Ministries/Statutory Boards should encourage their subsidiaries to also apply the principles of the National IP Protocol.

My agency does not currently own any IP. Does the National IP Protocol still apply to me?

Yes, while an agency may not currently own any IP, the National IP Protocol would continue to apply to all R&D activities where the agency uses, provides, or helps to provide public funds to support these R&D activities. The National IP Protocol would also apply to all IP created from the above R&D activities.

My agency does not provide any “Inventive Contribution” to research collaborations. Does the National IP Protocol still apply to me?

Yes, while an agency may not provide “inventive contribution”, the National IP Protocol would continue to apply to all R&D activities where the agency uses, provides, or helps to provide public funds to support these R&D activities. The National IP Protocol would also apply to all IP created from the above R&D activities.

My agency does not commercialise any IP. Does the National IP Protocol still apply to me?

Yes, the National IP Protocol would apply to all R&D activities where the agency uses, provides, or helps to provide public funds to support these R&D activities. The National IP Protocol would also apply to all IP created from the above R&D activities.

Agencies should take note that the IP created shall be actively managed to ensure optimal utility.

What is meant by “value capture”?

The National IP Protocol takes a broad view of value capture, which can be achieved through different ways.

They include:
  • Generating significant economic activity in Singapore such as high- value manufacturing, the development of technology based start-ups, and the development of new products, processes, services and business models;
  • Attracting and maintaining foreign direct investment in Singapore with the potential for economic growth;
  • Increasing the absorptive capacity of local enterprises thereby enabling them to scale, grow and increase their productivity and giving them a competitive advantage through access to IP resulting from publicly-funded R&D;
  • Increasing R&D activity in Singapore, including the establishment of R&D centres by corporations in Singapore;
  • Creating high value jobs in Singapore; and/or
  • Improving the quality of life in Singapore and elsewhere.

The National IP Protocol requires Public Agencies to put in place mechanisms for active review of their patent portfolios in relation to unutilised patents. What are some of these mechanisms?

The rationale for active review of patent portfolio is to ensure the optimal use of public resources in the filing, prosecution and maintenance of patents. Ultimately, it is to ensure maximum impact of public-funded R&D and IP for Singapore.

Mechanisms for active review will instil diligence in ensuring that a patent portfolio will not be left dormant. These mechanisms include periodic review of all patents / patent applications filed by the Public Agency to determine whether these ought to be maintained or abandoned, or assigned/licensed to a staff inventor or to a private enterprise, or used to work with private enterprises or other Public Agencies to explore other means to derive value. It is also advisable for Public Agencies to put in place policies and systems to safeguard trade secrets / know-how if these exist, so that their value can be preserved.

If needed, the IP Management (Government) (IPMG) team in IPOS can assist Public Agencies to put in place an IP policy and processes. You may contact the team at IPOS_GOVT_IP@ipos.gov.sg.


Can an agency give monetary incentives to staff researchers under Principle 5?

Yes, this is possible. The commercialisation of IP created using public funds should also benefit the researchers who are the inventors or creators of the IP. This is to incentivise researchers and promote greater industry involvement by staff researchers. There is flexibility for public agencies to decide the form and substance of sharing the financial rewards derived from the commercialisation of IP with the inventors.

Who should I contact if I have queries in respect of the National IP Protocol?

Please contact the IP Working Group Secretariat at IPWG@ipos.gov.sg.