New legal clinic to give public free advice on intellectual property issues

SINGAPORE - Individuals and small businesses looking for legal advice on intellectual property (IP) issues can now turn to the Government for a start.

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) has set up a free weekly legal clinic for clients to seek preliminary legal advice on matters relating to IP rights and copyright infringement.

It announced this at its 2015 World IP Day appreciation event on Thursday morning. I also released the results of an IP perception survey done last year.

The majority surveyed were aware of the legal penalties of IP infringement, with four out of five of the 1,002 respondents agreeing that was important to protect IP rights.

Half of the respondents also viewed downloading from unauthorised sources or unauthorised file sharing as a form of theft.

Ipos also announced that Singapore has become the first country in Southeast Asia to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty, which is aimed at freeing up access to copyrighted materials for the visually impaired and people with "print disabilities such as dyslexia".

Under the treaty, which kicked in on March 30, institutions such the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped and Lighthouse School will face fewer obstacles in transcribing copyrighted materials to a form accessible to those with print disabilities.

They also gain access to overseas databases which have such materials, such as those run by the Royal Blind in Britain and the National Federation of the Blind in the United States.

lesterh@sph.com.sg