SINGAPORE and Laos have inked an agreement to collaborate in the area of intellectual property (IP), allowing companies in both countries swifter access to a combined market of some 12.5 million people.
A memorandum of cooperation was signed on Wednesday between Dr Khanlasy Keobounphanh, director general of the Department of IP (DIP) at the Ministry of Science and Technology in Laos, and Daren Tang, chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), on the sidelines of the 2nd ASEAN-Korea Heads of IP Offices Meeting held in Seoul.
The cooperation covers two broad areas. First, DIP will be able to tap on IPOS's patent search and examination expertise and services to grant quality patents in Laos.
IPOS said in a statement it will support Laos in building its innovation ecosystem and contribute to economic integration in Asean through IP and intangible assets.
Secondly, DIP will allow Singapore-granted patents to be re-registered in Laos, accelerating enterprise access into both markets.
"It will enhance coordination between Laos and Singapore and provide greater support to innovators growing and protecting their IP in both countries and the region," Dr Keobounphanh said.
Mr Tang said Singapore's partnership with Laos also brings them a step closer to greater IP harmonisation between their Asean partners, adding that IPOS has always seen itself as a bridge between countries and economies.
IPOS noted that Asean has seen a 15 per cent growth in IP filings between 2013 and 2017. Total inventions by Asean applicants stood at more than 37,000 in the last decade, with an average annual increase of 12.5 per cent between 2008 and 2013, according to IPOS data.