Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reliance on New Zealand patents to grant

In Singapore, it is possible for a patent application to proceed to grant based on final examination results or granted patent of a corresponding application in any one of seven prescribed patent offices, including the New Zealand Patent Office. When this option is elected, section 30(3)(c) of our Patents Act states that the claims in the Singapore patent application must relate to the claims in the corresponding application (we believe that the claims should be identical) which have been examined for novelty, inventive step and industrial application.

However, the Singapore Registry has recently highlighted that the New Zealand Patent Office does not examine patent applications for inventive step. Therefore, while Singapore patents proceeding to grant on the strength of a corresponding New Zealand patent (or final examination results thereof) will still be granted, such patents may be challenged on the basis that they have not been examined for inventive step. In that event, it is possible to request post-grant search and examination at the relevant time.

In the circumstances, patent applicants are encouraged to rely on corresponding patents of prescribed offices i.e. the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Korea, Japan, European Patent Office (if filed in English), Canada (if filed in English), which examine for all three criteria of patentability, or final examination results thereof.

Meanwhile, it is believed that the current New Zealand Patents Act of 1953 will be replaced by a new Act, which will, among other changes, introduce inventiveness as an examination criteria.