We often get asked the question “What is the latest deadline for entering the national phase of a PCT application in Singapore?”
Sometimes the question is phrased “How late can we enter the Singapore national phase?” or “Are extensions of time available for PCT national phase entry in Singapore?” or “Is it possible to enter the Singapore national phase late?”
This post discusses the provisions available under Singapore patent law for obtaining an extension of time for late entry into the Singapore national phase of an International patent application.
Deadline Extensions for Singapore Patents
There are provisions in the Singapore Patents Act and Singapore Patents Rules for obtaining an extension of time for a deadline that has been missed. Among these is the deadline for entering the national phase in Singapore of an International Patent Application (PCT application).
Under Singapore law, a PCT application normally needs to enter the national stage in Singapore by 30 months from the earliest claimed priority date. If no priority has been claimed, the deadline is 30 months from the filing date of the International application. Of course, the PCT application needs to designate Singapore as a Contracting State.
Eighteen Month Extension Available
Under the Singapore Patent Rules, an extension of time is available on request, for up to 18 months from the national phase entry deadline. The extension of time is available as of right, and is not a discretionary extension.
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS, also known as the Singapore patent office) charges an official fee per month of extension obtained.
In other words, an applicant can start the national processing of a PCT application in Singapore up to 18 months after the normal 30-month deadline.
Extending Deadline for Requesting Examination
Depending on length of time that has elapsed, it may also be necessary to seek extensions of time for other deadlines that may have lapsed in the meantime for the Singapore patent application.
Such deadlines might for example include the deadline for requesting examination. A request for examination of a Singapore patent application is normally due by 36 months from the earliest priority date.
The Singapore Patent Guides site will work out the exact deadlines for entering the Singapore national phase and requesting examination for any PCT application.
If the deadline for filing a request for examination has lapsed, the applicant will also need to file a request for extension of time for the requesting examination. The request for extending the deadline for filing a request for examination will also be granted by the patents registry as of right.
Each of the deadlines that may have passed will need to be extended separately. Each deadline is treated as a separate deadline for the purposes of calculating the official fees due.
In the situation described above, if the deadline for requesting examination has lapsed, the applicant will need to extend both the national phase entry deadline and the deadline for requesting examination, and will need to pay two sets of official fees.
When Does a Patent Applicant Need to File the Request?
An important point to note is that the requests for extension of time must be made before the expiry of the 18 month period. The official fees will also need to be paid at the same time.
It is therefore possible to enter the Singapore national phase of a PCT application as late as 48 months from the priority date.
If the invention is important, the applicant might want to go ahead with a late national phase entry in Singapore, but they should be aware that it may be an expensive process, depending on the amount of time elapsed.
Note: this post only deals with extensions of time for late entry into the Singapore national phase of a PCT application. Extensions of other deadlines may also be possible under Singapore law.
Correction: an earlier version of this post incorrectly indicated that it is possible to enter the Singapore national phase of a PCT application up to 38 months from the earliest priority date. This has now been corrected to the right term, which is 48 months from the earliest priority date.
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