Recently, we received an email enquiry from a foreign company along these lines:

“We are business from [foreign country] and have recently started business in Singapore.

We are using unique displays in our shops to display our goods. The displays have been designed by us, and we have placed them at our outlets in Singapore.

Before somebody copies our displays, we would like to apply for patent in Singapore.”

Unfortunately, I had to advise them that under Singapore law, both inventions and designs have to be new in order to get protection.

If the display has been used or shown publicly in Singapore, then it is likely that it would be regarded as being “made available to the public” (under patent law) or “published” (under registered design law).

If this is the case, then it would not be possible to obtain patent protection and/or registered design protection for the articles.

This was unfortunate, as the protection they might have obtained could’ve been potentially commercially valuable. Perhaps the foreign company will remember to seek advice from a patent attorney before displaying their designs and inventions, the next time.

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