SINGAPORE: The steering committee tasked with charting a master plan to develop Singapore’s intellectual property (IP) sector, has submitted its proposals to the government, identifying three strategic outcomes to work on.
Senior Minister of State for Law, Indranee Rajah told Parliament during the Ministry’s Committee of Supply debate that among the targets is for Singapore to be an international hub for IP transactions and management.
This is so that companies will use Singapore as a base and manage their IP portfolios from here.
Singapore should also aim to be a hub for quality IP filings for companies all over the world.
Ms Indranee said these companies can then tap on Singapore’s IP service providers and infrastructure.
This will allow them to use Singapore as a gateway to secure IP protection, in key markets all over the world.
The steering committee also recommends that Singapore become a choice venue for IP dispute resolution.
That is, by leveraging on the efficient, cost—effective and high—quality judicial system, and alternative dispute resolution method such as arbitration.
Ms Indranee said to achieve these outcomes, the committee has recommended that Singapore develop skilled IP professionals, networked to the region and beyond to effectively serve the international needs of companies.
It has also proposed that Singapore build a conducive and progressive environment to encourage IP players worldwide to bring their activities to Singapore.
She said this will create a thriving IP ecosystem in Singapore. "We are in general agreement with the recommendations of the committee, and we intend to aggressively develop Singapore into a regional and international IP Hub. Detailed announcements will be made over the next few months on this front."
Separately, Singapore’s legal sector has also seen dynamic and sustained growth.
Ms Indranee said from 2008 to 2012, the nominal value added from legal services grew by 25 per cent, from S$1.48 billion to S$1.85 billion.
Singapore is also exporting more legal services.
Between 2008 and 2011, the value of legal services exported from Singapore increased by 51.8 per cent, from S$363 million to S$551 million.
Ms Indranee said the growth has been catalysed by the liberalisation of the legal services sector, mainly through the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice scheme.
The arbitration sector has also seen stellar growth.
Singapore is now recognised as the leading international arbitration hub in Asia.
Worldwide, Singapore is the third most preferred seat by companies, together with Paris and Tokyo, and after London and Geneva.
And the growing caseload of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre reflected the Republic’s rising stature in international arbitration.
The number of new cases handled rose from 99 in 2008 to 235 in 2012.
The total value of disputes reached a record high of S$3.61 billion in 2012, well in excess of the total for 2010 and 2011 of S$2.67 billion put together.
Ms Indranee said this growth is the result of the aggressive and holistic approach Singapore has taken to develop the arbitration sector over the years — among them having a completely open regime for international commercial arbitration.
Parties engaging in arbitration in Singapore also have the freedom to engage lawyers of any nationality and to use any governing law.
And Singapore also has a supportive legislative framework in the form of the International Arbitration Act, which is continually updated in consultation with academics and practitioners.
She said: "I would encourage the younger lawyers to deepen and extend their arbitration skills and knowledge to advantage of this growth area so that, in the years to come, we will continue to have a strong pipeline of Singapore lawyers who are able to serve the local, regional and international markets for arbitration."
Parliament has passed the main and development estimates for the Ministry of Law.
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