Singapore to be rights hub

Move to help stymie rampant piracy in Asia

SINGAPORE — The Economic Development Board has unveiled plans to establish the island-state as an intellectual property hub for the region.

Speaking at the Sept. 12 opening of the Europe Asia Patent Information Conference, Ko Kheng Hwa, managing director of the Board, announced plans to increase the number of Singapore-based professionals in the intellectual property field from the current 300 to around 1,000 in the next five years.

A thorny issue for movie studios, pay TV channels, the music industry and software providers, intellectual property legislation is seriously lacking in many Asian countries. Even in Hong Kong, where legal action was taken against a movie pirate, the custodial sentence was just 36 months. No wonder piracy is an appealing and lucrative crime compared with drug trafficking offenses, for which the penalty is death.

Ranked the most protective country in Asia by the Political & Economic Risk Consultancy, Singapore sees its existing infrastructure as an ideal foundation for a panregional hub. It boasts a strong legal system that includes an Intellectual Property Office, the Singapore Intl. Arbitration Center, the Composers & Authors Society of Singapore, Recording Industry Assn. and its Mediation Center.

According to Ko, the recruitment of IP talent is the first step toward hub status. “Highly specialized expertise is needed in this field, such as business-savvy technologists, lawyers, patent agents, engineers and chief intellectual property officers,” Ko says.

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