Introductory Guide to Trademark Protection in Singapore and South-East Asia

Singapore’s trademark laws sit in line with the Nice Classification system and the Madrid Protocol. Because of this, the process of applying for a trademark isn’t all that dissimilar to what you may find in Mainland China and parts of Europe.

Regardless, let’s take a look at the ins and outs of protecting your trademark in South-East Asia, shall we?

When Should You Register Your Trademark in Singapore and South-East Asia?

In a perfect world, you would register your trademark before you launch your products or services in the country/market. However, things might not work like this. If you started your business without realizing the importance of registering your trademark, you’ll have to start as soon as possible to make up for lost time.

Ensuring you register your trademark allows you to avoid costly mistakes. Legal action can quite quickly be taken against you by somebody who has an identical or extremely similar trademark. When this happens, it is very hard to gain protection and rights for your trademark afterward. So, your best bet is to register it before you launch.

How to Register a Trademark in Singapore and South-East Asia

South-East Asia adopts a first to file trademark registration procedure. In other words, the first applicant to submit the relevant forms will be the person who receives the rights to the trademark. Put simply, you need to be quick!

Let’s take a look at the steps involved in the process. You’ll be pleased to know that it’s very simple compared to the registration process in China.

Step 1. Pre-Filing Search

Technically, you don’t need to do this step but it’s a good idea just in case someone already has a similar or identical trademark registered. Ultimately, this will save you a lot of time.

Having said this, you’ll need to check whether your desired South-East Asia registry has an online database. If not, you won’t be able to conduct a simple search. You’ll have to employ a local trademark agent in this case.

Step 2. Application

Once you can accurately believe that you have a unique trademark, you’ll need to fill in the application form. It will ask you for the following details:

  • Your name and address
  • Your trademark image
  • Any priority details
  • Declaration of intent to use your mark

Alongside this, you will have to pay all the fees. Depending on the class of product/service your mark falls into, the price will be anywhere between S$240 to S$341 when completing it online. If you choose the manual root, it’ll be a flat rate of S$347.

Step 3. Exam

A formality check comes next. This ensures that your information meets the specified requirements.

After that, your application will go through a substantive examination. This can take quite a long time (up to 18 months), especially if any objections occur.

To ensure you decrease the objection risk, make sure it’s:

  • Not similar to another trademark
  • Easily distinguishable
  • Not deceptive
  • Not offensive or immoral

Step 4. Publication

Once the examination is finished, your trademark will be inserted into the Trademarks Journal. If someone wants to oppose this, they have 2 months to do so in Singapore (30 days in the Philippines). 

Step 5. Registration

If everything goes off without a hitch, you will be given the trademark registration. You will acquire a certificate of this for your records. This will protect your brand for 10 years.

How to Renew and Maintain Your Trademark

Sadly, you can’t register once and be set for life, there are upkeep and renewals to be done.

It’s important to renew your trademark registration no earlier than 6 months before it expires. However, if you miss this date, you will have 6 months after the expiration date to do so. Helpfully, the registrar will send you a nudge to ensure you don’t miss out.

The renewed trademark registration duration is the same as the initial period, 10 years.

The Bottom Line

There you have it! Following our step-by-step guide will ensure you are well on your way to protecting your trademark in Singapore and South-East Asia. What are you waiting for? The quicker you get started the better!

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