SINGAPORE – Companies and individuals embroiled in Intellectual Property (IP) disputes could soon resolve their issues in a less costly manner with the proposed introduction of a specialised litigation track for IP disputes at the High Court.

Unlike usual court procedures, the new track will feature simplified processes and cost-saving features, such as a cap on the length of the court trial and a limit on the value of claims by parties involved.

This measure is being suggested together with a raft of proposed changes to the IP Acts introduced in Parliament on Monday (July 8) that are aimed at improving the IP dispute resolution system.

The amendments, announced by Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong, include having the High Court hear most civil IP disputes, as opposed to the existing system of having three bodies – the High Court, State Courts and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) – handle such cases.

With the changes, the High Court would be the only body to handle all issues involving infringement of IP, actions in passing off, and declarations of non-infringement.

The Law Ministry said in a statement the move simplifies the system and “supports the development of IP jurisprudence through High Court judgments.”

The specialised litigation track will be introduced to complement these changes, it added.

“This (the track) will be especially useful to less well-resourced parties such as individuals, and small and medium enterprises.”

Other changes involve giving third parties new and formal avenues to affect the patent application and re-examination procedures, to ensure that only “deserving inventions are granted patent protection”, said the ministry.

For example, third parties can formally provide extra information to Ipos to help it decide if an invention should be patented.

There is also a proposed post-grant patent re-examination procedure, in which third parties can challenge a patent’s validity by giving Ipos the relevant information and reasons for revoking it.

Ipos would, if necessary, raise the issue with the patent owner.

The changes will also make clear that IP disputes can go for arbitration here, and the results are enforced only on the parties involved.

Such a move would encourage the use of arbitration for IP disputes, and enhance Singapore’s attractiveness as a venue for international IP arbitration, said the ministry.