Intellectual Property Protection
While Singapore's Government has made significant strides in the last two years to improve its patent law, there remain several vexing problems for the pharmaceutical industry in that country regarding the level of IP protection:
Government Licenses: Virtually all acts by the government or acts authorized by the government in relation to a patented pharmaceutical invention do not constitute infringement of the patent. Government use, as defined by the Singaporean Government, cannot be prevented by the patentee.
Government Use During Emergencies: In addition to war and other more traditional emergencies, Singapore's law treats the promotion of the productivity of industry, commerce and agriculture, the fostering of exports and the reduction of imports, and redressing imbalances of trade as emergencies qualifying for the government's use of patented inventions. There appears to be no saving clause in the law that would supersede a government's license or use during an emergency in case of a conflict with an international treaty to which Singapore is a party.
International Patent Exhaustion: The import, use, disposal or offer to dispose, of any patented invention, which is produced by, or with the consent of, the patentee (conditional or otherwise) does not constitute infringement of the patent in Singapore, regardless of where the patented invention is being produced. This constitutes a broad application of the international patent exhaustion principle. The language "(conditional or otherwise)" appears to indicate that even resale restrictions imposed on the purchaser of the patented product or territorial limitations in license agreements would not protect the patentee in Singapore.
Potential Exports/Foreign Sales
It is not possible at this time to provide a reliable estimate of the cost of the aforementioned onerous patent law provisions within the Singapore market.
For all the aforementioned reasons, PhRMA believes that Singapore should be listed as a Watch Country under Special 301 in 1999.