Life at IPOS

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In the thick of negotiations (ASEAN and friends; with Byron in the middle)

Travel Broadens the Mind by Byron Karuppiah, Legal Counsel

Travel, it broadens the mind – one of the many tropes put out there without a passing thought. But, what if one only travelled to work? Will we still subscribe to the notion of a broader mind when confined to repetitive days of hotel room and meeting room only?

Part of my work involves negotiation rounds, which has seen me bounce between Singapore and Latin America and around the Asia Pacific region. True, we hardly leave the meeting room, but I suppose one is still aware that a Shaolin temple lies in the horizon.

But, in that moment, one ceases to think of the outside, instead it is the political climate and legal regime of the countries of your 15 counterparts which you are trying to parse. In some form it can be seen as a crash course on other countries. Not just legal regime, or political situation, but culture as well. When, surrounded by delegates from all across, you find that you can no longer rely on social shortcuts familiar to only your countrymen. Perhaps that stray “lah” confuses your lunch partner, but then it also leads to a laugh and then perhaps a tale of a country specific medical syndrome (look up Paris Syndrome).

In this melting-pot, one is forced to listen, and to engage. Passively meandering through the rounds just will not work. These meetings are like the great world expositions, but indoors. So, does travel for work broaden the mind?

As an aside, I watched my first Australian Football Match as a consequence of the enthusiasm for this rather remote sport by my Australian counterpart, while at a dinner in Bangkok.


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Yu Yang (4th from front on the right) and her team’s awesome lunch

Growing Through a Supportive and 'Always-Learning' Culture by Yu Yang, Patent Examiner, IPOS International

As a patent examiner at IPOS International, I enjoy a supportive and ‘always-learning’ working environment, where we share a common goal and are always ready to assist and learn from one another. In an organisation with over 100 IP experts, I am delighted that both formal and informal support structures are in place to help us grow!

As a patent examiner, I often examine applications from emerging technical fields and must stay relevant by studying related technologies. These can be as diverse as 4G/5G communications, artificial intelligence and machine learning, data security/encryption and blockchain-based FinTech. Although it can be challenging, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to examine the latest technologies and gain valuable experience in the process.

Having benefited from knowledge-sharing, I am now ‘paying it forward’ by developing technical and search handbooks to enable my peers to quickly grasp background knowledge and search tips for applications in my technological areas of expertise.

I thoroughly enjoy my work as a patent examiner. If you also value a supportive and ‘always-learning’ culture, I welcome you to join our family!


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Mei Xuan (2nd from right) with the HR and Finance ladies on our last day in Manulife Centre at Bras Basah

Stepping out of my comfort zone by Wong Mei Xuan, Assistant Director, Finance Department

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”

When I first applied to IPOS Internal Audit Department 3 years ago, I would not have imagined doing what I am doing now. In my first two years in IPOS, I learnt about IPOS - the work, the culture and the people through my lens as an internal auditor. I would look at processes and think, are the corporate governance and risk management controls adequate?

In 2018, I was presented with an interesting opportunity – to move to the first line of defence and be the proactive shaper of processes in the Finance Department. When I first joined the Finance Department, I implemented the process enhancements I had recommended to Finance Department in my previous capacity as an internal auditor. Some auditors may joke that this is "karma". Instead, I see this as "coming full circle", an interesting opportunity to be on both ends of the audit, and to broaden my horizons.

Be the change you want to see. I just started my second year in Finance, and have not looked back since. I look forward to continue innovating in my career path ahead.


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Sun Ting (1st from the right at the back row) with the IP Strategists enjoying VR games during team bonding 

Crossing Borders, Flying High by Sun Ting, IP Strategist, IPOS International

"As you craft your life story, deepen your roots here and participate in our community life, you will contribute your bit to the Singapore story too."- Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

When I landed in Singapore 13 years ago to pursue my Ph.D. degree, I did not immediately get immersed into the multi-racial culture of Singapore as most of my lab mates and colleagues then were Chinese nationals.

All these changed when I joined IPOS as a Patent Examiner 5 years ago. I never imagined that I would be part of the Patent Search & Examination Unit made up of science and engineering experts of varied backgrounds. A colleague from Thailand would share with us her tailoring tips; our Consultant Examiner from the UK told us stories about her ponies; local friends taught us the Hokkien dialect and brought us to the Old Airport Road Hawker Centre to enjoy local delights; and my contribution in Chinese calligraphy at our Lunar New Year celebrations are just some of the enjoyable intercultural experiences that I have had in this big IPOS Family.

As I transit to a different portfolio as an IP Strategist, I help enterprises identify the value and understand the importance of their intangible assets. I am eager to further enrich my knowledge and enlarge my field of vision in this role. When the organisation supports us in developing our professional skillsets in terms of mediums and resources, there is nothing stopping me from doing so. I look forward to fly higher in my career ahead.


Hear from our Interns!

Isabel Lui Min: Seeing IP through the lens of social media
Over the summer holidays, I had the opportunity to intern at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) under the Media & Communications Department (MCD). As I had no prior experience in the IP scene, it was truly an eye-opener for me. I got exposed to the many features of IP and how it actually applies to several aspects of business.

While completing my tasks at IPOS, I managed to exercise several skills such as critical thinking and creative skills. The IP scene is actually a lot more interesting than people make it out to be, and it was really fun tying posts together, keeping them fun yet professional. Also, Singapore has one the most competitive and highly regarded IP regimes in the world, and IPOS is constantly rolling out new initiatives to ensure it stays on top of its game. As such, there is always new things to learn and there is never a dull day.

IPOS was truly a place I learnt and grew a lot in, being surrounded by kind and helpful colleagues who were always welcoming and eager to teach. Having a front seat in IPOS has left me with tons of insight into the industry and its importance, which I will definitely bring with me into the future.

Isabel loves travelling and photography.

Isabel loves travelling and photography.


Justin Chua: A different perspective on IP

It was my privilege to be an intern with IPOS. It allowed me to acquire a broad and deep understanding about IP.

After my three months with the International Engagement Department (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

Justin (middle) and colleagues from the International Engagement and Partnership & Programme teams


Yeo Siew May: Being the voice of IPOS
Hi! I'm Siew May, an intern from the Media & Communications Department (MCD) from May to November 2018. In the 6 months I spent there, I was not only equipped with skills, but also experiences that will stay with me for many years to come.

The most significant things I learnt were not from the daily operations, but rather from the interactions and conversations that I had with the people from IPOS. Attending meetings and events exposed me to how events were executed, and the importance of processes and details. Being a part of the Media & Communications team meant that we were the voice of the IPOS, and this taught me to put myself into the shoes of our users and the public, as I was challenged to think of ways to make IP more interesting and fun for the public. These are skills that I still apply to my career today.

Before I started my internship, I knew nothing about Intellectual Property. Today, I value the importance of protecting our ideas, as it is one of our greatest assets. To prospective interns of IPOS - enjoy your time there and always be hungry to learn!

Siew May (second from right) and her colleagues at IP Week @ SG, IPOS' annual flagship event

Siew May (second from right) and her colleagues at IP Week @ SG, IPOS' annual flagship event