A patent allows the owner to prevent others generally from making or selling an invention for a limited number of years, usually twenty. In exchange for this right, the applicant is required to publicly disclose the details of the invention for the education and benefit of the public. Without a patent system, there will be little incentive for innovation as every invention would be quickly copied and the inventor would gain very little for all his hard work. To be patentable in Singapore, an invention must be novel, non-obvious, and have industrial applicability. Like other forms of intellectual property rights, a patent is a form of personal property that may be assigned, licensed or charged by way of a mortgage.

Trade Marks

A trade mark is sign capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of a trader from goods or services provided by others. Typically, a trade mark could include any word, name, symbol, or device. The purpose of a trade mark is to allow consumers to recognise the origin of a product so as to have assurance of the quality of goods and services provided. This not only promotes brand loyalty but also allows for the introduction of different products and services into the market place by way of brand extension.Anexample of a trade mark is the name”Virgin”which is instantly recognisable and allows the public to readily identify the goods and services (for example, airlines, records, mobile service providers) associated with the Virgin group of companies and distinguish these from those offered by other companies.Registeringa trade mark enables the owner to seek protection by law against other traders using identical or similar names or symbols to market identical or similar goods or services.

Registered Design

A registered design is a monopoly right for the appearance of the whole or part of a product, resulting particularly from the features of lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials of a product or its ornamentation.These designs could be anything from patterns on textiles or apparel to the shape of a wristwatch or the design of part of a product, such as a doorknob. The registered design gives the owner the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using or stocking any item incorporating the design and to take action against those who infringe this right.


A company/individual holding their own intellectual property (IP) may sometimes want to allow another party to use their IP for certain purposes. A typical way of realizing this is for the company/individual to grant the other party a “license” to use their IP. This is known as IP licensing. If the company/individual’s IP rights are fully transferred to the other party, then the IP right is assigned to the other (known as IP acquisition).IP licensing typically involves one party (“licensor”) granting to another (“licensee”) the right to make, use, sell and/or offer for sale a patented invention, know-how, copyrights and trademarks. In IP acquisition, the transferror generally receives “compensation” such as money, equity, or other rights (e.g. a cross-license) from the transferor.