The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and IP office of Vietnam (IP Vietnam) have launched the Collaborative Search and Examination (CS&E) programme. Running from 1 March 2023 to 28 February 2025, the CS&E programme provides patent applicants with enhanced prior art search and examination results through the combined expertise from IPOS and IP Vietnam. The CS&E programme is complimentary during its pilot period and there is no additional official fee or translation cost to participate in it.
To make use of the CS&E programme, a patent application must be first filed in Singapore or Vietnam without any priority claim and must meet the CS&E cap limits. There is a combined annual cap limit of 20 CS&E requests per year and this is shared by both IPOS and IP Vietnam. There is also a monthly cap limit of 2 CS&E requests, or a maximum of 4 CS&E requests per month if the cap limit of the preceding month is not fully utilised. Furthermore, the same applicant cannot submit more than 2 CS&E requests per month.
Consider that the first patent application is filed in Singapore. At the time of filing the Singapore application, a request for search & examination (normal official fee applies) and a request for CS&E must also be filed with IPOS. IPOS will conduct search & examination and provide IP Vietnam with its provisional CS&E report. IP Vietnam will consider IPOS’ provisional CS&E report as reference and provide IPOS with its provisional CS&E report containing the IP Vietnam examiner’s patentability opinion on the Singapore application. Exchanges of all documents between the patent offices will be in English and applicants do not need to provide any translations. This exchange of knowledge between the two patent offices can help to improve the patent search & examination capabilities in both offices, especially given that IPOS has built a team of patent examiners with expertise in various technologies.
IPOS will consider IP Vietnam’s provisional CS&E report as reference and issue the final CS&E report which is legally binding for the Singapore application. An English translation of IP Vietnam’s provisional CS&E report will also be provided to the applicant for reference. If all claims of the Singapore application are patentable, IPOS will issue a Notice of Eligibility to Grant together with the final CS&E report. If there are any objections on the Singapore application, IPOS will issue the final CS&E report as a Written Opinion detailing the objections and giving the applicant 5 months to respond.
The CS&E programme targets to issue the final CS&E report within 10 months, giving the applicant at least 2 months to decide whether to file foreign patent applications within the priority year. If a Vietnam application is filed, under the CS&E programme, IP Vietnam will prioritise search & examination of the Vietnam application. It is worth noting that applicants can still file patent applications in Singapore under the CS&E programme, subject to the CS&E cap limits, even if they do not intend to seek patent protection in Vietnam.
The CS&E programme allows applicants to file a single patent application and get the search & examination results from both IPOS and IP Vietnam within 10 months. This gives applicants a more comprehensive assessment of their inventions and help them to make informed decisions in the early stages of their IP and commercialisation strategies.
Even if the Singapore application does not qualify for the CS&E programme, a normal search & examination report from IPOS can still be used to accelerate examination for the Vietnam application under the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) programme, provided that there is at least one allowable claim. It is also worth noting that IPOS offers another examination acceleration programme known as SG IP FAST, which aims to grant patents in as fast as 6-9 months. However, a Singapore application must not be under SG IP FAST in order to qualify for CS&E, so applicants would have to make a choice between them.
Vietnam applicants can also benefit from the CS&E programme when they file Vietnam applications first, because of the lower examination fees of IP Vietnam compared to IPOS. The Vietnam applicant can pay the normal examination fee to IP Vietnam and obtain IPOS’ independent provisional CS&E report containing the IPOS examiner’s patentability opinion on the Vietnam application. In other words, the Vietnam applicant can get the Vietnam application independently examined by a highly qualified patent examiner at IPOS without paying the relatively higher IPOS examination fee.
If you have any questions about the CS&E programme or other accelerated examination programmes in Singapore, please feel free to contact us.