Singapore ranks 6th in international IP index

Annual study measures state of intellectual property environments in 38 countries

Singapore ranked sixth - above China, Japan and Malaysia - among 38 countries in the fourth annual index by the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) which measures the state of intellectual property (IP) environments around the world.

Singapore scored 25.63 out of 30 measurable criteria critical to innovation, which include patent, copyright and trademark protection, enforcement, and engagement in international treaties, among other things, the USCC said in a release yesterday.

The score was a notch better than last year's 25.38, although the percentage remains the same at 85 per cent of total score.

Half of the 38 economies, which together account for nearly 85 per cent of global gross domestic product, also improved their total score from last year's index, indicating increased recognition of the benefits of intellectual property and a strong IP system, the chamber said in the release.

For Singapore, the key areas of strength included an adequate patent-enforcement legal framework, a strengthened copyright framework, and a legal framework for protection of unregistered marks, while high (although dropping) rates of software piracy were a key area of weakness.

"A number of indicators suggest that online piracy in Singapore has fallen in the past year. Industry reports on music sales show that after four consecutive years of falls, the music market in Singapore grew by close to 5 per cent in 2015," the study noted. "Increased sales of digital music and streaming services were drivers of this growth."

Singapore Customs successfully seized a number of trademark-infringing goods and illegal tobacco last year, the study said, but lamented that the authorities' right to action against suspected goods is limited to those bound for Singapore.

The United States, Britain, Germany, France and Sweden occupied top spots in the index, while Malaysia's IP environment has improved gradually over the last four years, resulting in a cumulative increase in its score to 14.78.

As Malaysia is a negotiating partner in the recently signed Trans-Pacific Partnership, the IP standards within the agreement - once ratified and implemented - will further strengthen its IP environment, the study said.

This article was first published on Feb 11, 2016.
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