Civil intellectual property (IP) disputes could be consolidated in the High Court under new proposals by the Law Ministry, which is also calling for a fast-track regime for IP litigation.
IP disputes are currently heard in the High Court, State Courts and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, depending on the nature of the IP right, the type of proceeding and the value of the claim.
"Placing most of the IP cases in the High Court simplifies and makes clearer to users what the appropriate forum is," said MinLaw in launching a public consultation yesterday for the proposed reforms to the IP dispute resolution system.
The public consultation runs from now till Nov 30.
MinLaw said the fast-track option is meant for disputes which involve a lower value or where parties prefer to further speed up the conduct of their cases. It may be suitable for less well-resourced parties, such as individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who may otherwise be unable to enforce their IP rights or defend themselves in litigation.
Fast-track trials may involve a two-day hearing cap, a $500,000 ceiling on the claim value and discretion for the court in key matters in relation to the conduct of the case.
There will also be a stage-based cap on party-to-party costs and disbursements awarded, subject to an overall ceiling of $50,000.
Parties can opt to have their case heard in the same manner as other types of civil disputes instead of the fast track.
The proposed reforms are based on the recommendations of the IP Dispute Resolution (IPDR) Committee, which was formed in 2015 to review the IP dispute resolution system in Singapore.
The review is aimed at enhancing access to the Republic's IP dispute resolution system, particularly for individuals and SMEs, and to position Singapore as a choice venue for IP dispute resolution in Asia.
The proposals also take into account the recommendations of the Civil Justice Commission and Civil Justice Review Committee on the civil justice system.
MinLaw said a time-and costeffective system of IP dispute resolution is important for rights holders, ensures that incentives to innovate and create new works for the benefit of society remain, and is reassuring for potential defendants.
"This supports Singapore's aim of being a knowledge-and innovation-driven economy," said MinLaw.
The public consultation paper, together with the report of the IPDR Committee, can be found at: www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/minlaw/en/news/public-consultations.html