The Singapore Ministry of Law (MinLaw) has tabled the Registered Designs (Amendment) Bill for first reading in Parliament. The proposed legislative changes will update Singapore’s design protection regime to take into account latest trends in design and technology. It will support the growth of the design industry by making it easier for designers to protect their creative works.
The bill implements the recommendations
from the review of Singapore’s registered designs regime conducted by
MinLaw and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS). Key
features of the Registered Designs (Amendment) Bill include:
(i) Broaden the scope of registrable designs to include:
Virtual designs of non-physical products that can be projected onto any
surface and have useful functions, for example a light-projected
keyboard which works like a physical keyboard.
Colours as a design feature. For example, a new vacuum cleaner shape
together with the yellow and black colours of the vacuum cleaner's body
can be registered.
In addition, the amendments will
clarify that the designs of artisanal or handcrafted items, such as
handmade jewellery, can be registered.
(ii) Allow the designer of a commissioned design, rather than the commissioning party, to own the design by default
where a designer is commissioned to create a design, the commissioning
party is the owner of the design. The amendments will instead give the
design ownership to the creator by default. This is to highlight the
importance of design creation and the valuable contribution of
designers. Both parties would still be free to contract otherwise.
(iii) Broaden and lengthen the grace period provision
a design cannot be validly registered if it has been publicly disclosed
before the application date. However, narrow exceptions are provided–a
design can be validly registered if the disclosure took plac in very
limited circumstances (for example, when the disclosure was in breach of
confidence), and the application for design protection was made within
six months of the disclosure.
The amendments will
broaden the circumstances covered to any disclosure made by the
designer, and lengthen the grace period to 12 months. This will enable
designers to still obtain design protection if their works were
disclosed inadvertently or out of necessity, and is in line with modern
business realities where such disclosures could be necessary, and can
take place in a wide range of situations.
provides for design protection under the Registered Designs Act,
enacted in 2000.
A review of the
was conducted from
The objectives of the review were to
practices while continuing to balance the interests of design
and users, provide business certainty and
ensure that Singapore’s
protection regime is cost-effective. The review included two rounds of
public consultation from May to June 2014, and from October to December
2015 respectively. Focus group discussions and one-to-one consultations
were also held, including with industry and design associations,
businesses, intellectual property practitioners, and academics.