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Registered Designs Regime to Provide Greater Protection and Clarity to Designers

1. The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and the Intellectual Property Office of
Singapore (IPOS) announced today the completion of the review of
Singapore’s registered designs regime. Taking into account technological
advances and modern business practices, the proposed changes will support
the growth of the design industry by making it easier for designers to protect
their creative works, while allowing sufficient freedom for others to innovate
and build on existing creations.
2. The review of Singapore’s registered designs regime will complement the
Design 2025 Masterplan,1 which recommended that design firms and
businesses be supported to innovate and create new products, services and
experiences, capitalising on the value of intellectual property.
3. Some of the key changes include:
a) Broader scope of registrable designs
b) Making the designer the owner of the design by default, rather than the
c) Extended and broader grace period for design applications
Broader scope of registrable designs
4. Recognising the evolving design landscape, the scope of registrable designs
will be broadened to include the following:
a. Virtual or projected designs such as the design of a light-projected
keyboard, which can be projected onto any surface and perform the
same functions as a physical keyboard.
b. The design of artisanal or handcrafted items.
c. Colours as a design feature.
Creator owns design by default
5. In the situation where a designer is commissioned to create a design, the
current position is that the commissioner is the owner of the design.
Underscoring the importance of design creation, this will be changed so that
the designer will be the owner of the design by default. Both parties would
still be free to contract otherwise.
Extended and broader grace period for design applications
6. Currently, except in very limited circumstances, a designer cannot publicly
disclose his design before filing for protection. Within those limited
circumstances, an application for design protection must be filed within 6
months of the disclosure. Recognising the time pressures that designers
sometimes work under, the situations covered will be broadened to cover any
disclosure by the designer, and the grace period extended to 12 months. This
will reduce the situations where a designer loses the opportunity to obtain
design protection because of public disclosure before an application is filed.
7. Commenting on the recommendations, IPOS Chief Executive Officer, Daren
Tang said, “The proposed changes to the registered designs regime are part
of Singapore’s commitment to regularly review our IP regimes to ensure that
they are progressive and world-class. Working with our partners in the design
community, they take into account current design trends and business
practices and are meant to support creativity and innovation in Singapore’s
designs ecosystem. We encourage designers to make full use of the
enhanced regime to help them deliver differentiated products in a competitive
globalised market.”
8. The full set of recommendations can be found in Annex A – Final Report for Designs Review.

9. Singapore provides for design protection primarily under the Registered
Designs Act, which was enacted in 2000.
10.The designs review commenced in 2014 and included two rounds of public
consultation – one from May to June 2014, and another from October to
December 2015. In addition, numerous focus group discussions and one-toone
consultations, including with industry and design associations,
businesses, intellectual property practitioners, and academics, were also held.

16 MARCH 2016

Announced by the DesignSingapore Council on 10 March 2016, the Masterplan identifies design as
a key driver of value creation, as Singapore transitions into an innovation-driven economy.

Source: News Release 16 Mar 2016

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