Opening of the 4th AIPPI Forum in Singapore 4 to 6 Oct 2007
18 Oct 2007 Posted in Announcements
Address by Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs, Raffles City Convention Centre, 5th Oct 2007
Photo courtesy of AIPPI
Mr Ronald Myrick
Mr Michael Brunner
Ms Regina Quek
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. First of all, I want to extend a very warm welcome to our overseas friends to Singapore. I am happy to be here for this opening of the 4th AIPPI Forum. We are honoured and happy to be chosen by AIPPI as the first Asian city to host this biennial event, which I understand will be followed by the AIPPI Executive Committee Meeting. I am pleased that the organisers have found Asia, and in particular Singapore, with its links to the region and beyond, a fitting location for these events.
Over the last two decades, IP has moved swiftly into the public eye all over the world. Before this happened, it used to be more of a technical issue of interest primarily to lawyers and academics. Since then, IP has grown into a vital economic and trade consideration, a sensitive political factor in international relations, and even a social issue of great concern to the man on the street.
Nowhere in the world is this evolution of IP’s significance more apparent than in Asia. Regional countries are beginning to play increasingly major roles in the knowledge-fuelled global economy, for which intellectual contribution and creativity are of paramount importance. It is thus of no surprise that IP is factoring more and more in business considerations. One frequently quoted indication is the increase in PCT filings originating from Asia. According to WIPO statistics, the 28% rise in the number of PCT applications in 2006 over 2005 from developing countries were largely due to the rise in filings from Korea and China followed by India and Singapore. This increase is remarkable compared to the 6% growth in PCT filings worldwide. In fact, Korea and China are now the 4th and 8th largest countries of origin for PCT filings. I have no doubt that these numbers will continue to increase as Asian economies embrace innovation and leverage on the IP system for wealth creation.
More importantly, attitudes towards IP and its protection have also begun to shift. In a 2006 study by the Business Software Alliance, piracy levels have dropped progressively over the past three years in 12 out of the 15 Asia Pacific countries surveyed. There is obviously scope for greater improvement but I think this is an encouraging sign. Shifts in attitude towards greater respect for IP are not just happening amongst Asia’s political and business leaders, but I believe will also be embraced by the general population. This is where public education plays an important role.
This paradigm shift in Asia towards stronger IP protection and greater respect for IP will continue. The next decade looks likely to be a period of exceptional change to how IP is perceived in Asia. As these developments unfold, there will be many challenges to overcome and opportunities to capitalize on. In short, I would say that these are truly exciting and dynamic times for IP in Asia.
Singapore’s IP Journey
Singapore is in the thick of these momentous regional developments. As a small country, Singapore has little choice but to capitalize on its human resources and intellectual assets. We obviously cannot compete with other countries on cost alone. So we have to compete in the high-value arena of creativity and ideas.
With this realisation, we embarked on our journey towards a robust IP regime a decade or so ago in support of our shift towards a knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy. In addition to bringing our IP laws to international standards, we have also improved our IP registration systems and embarked on numerous public education initiatives to foster greater awareness of IP and the need to respect IP. These initiatives have stood us in good stead and play a critical role in attracting R&D and high-value, IP-intensive investments into Singapore. This creates jobs and generates wealth for the nation. Hence, by striking a good balance between the interests of stakeholders, we are reaping the economic rewards of IP.
Singapore now also finds itself in the privileged position of being able to contribute to the international IP community. We are happy to share the experience of our IP journey with others bilaterally or at multilateral forums such as ASEAN, APEC and WIPO. We are also pleased to facilitate dialogue and consensus-building amongst stakeholders. For instance, we hosted the WIPO Diplomatic Conference last year that resulted in the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, which I understand AIPPI also had a role in. Earlier this year, we hosted an informal meeting on the WIPO Development Agenda. As a small country of about 700 square kilometres, international developments can potentially have significant implications for us. It is thus of great interest to Singapore that global discourse is balanced and tries to achieve a win-win outcome for all parties.
Significance of the AIPPI Forum
As you know, IP considerations change rapidly in response to many driving forces. Digital technology is one such impetus that has a huge impact. Developments in international trade practices, business models, public health concerns and other trends also introduce new complications into what is already a very complex matter. To maintain order in what would otherwise be a chaotic discussion space, platforms such as this AIPPI Forum are of great value in bringing together influential decision makers and thought leaders. Engaging them in dialogue on contemporary IP issues facilitates the generation of the key principles and thoughts that will guide future discussions and contribute to developments in the international IP framework of treaties, agreements and laws.
I have looked through the programme and I commend the organizers for choosing such highly-relevant topics for this Forum. Many of the issues participants will focus on are of interest not just to private IP practitioners but also to national IP policy makers as well, including those of us here in Singapore. My Ministry staff are here at the Forum and will follow the deliberations. One such issue is that of the challenges facing IP protection in an online environment as Internet access, particularly broadband connection, continues to grow worldwide. Issues such as the rights to the IP originating from publicly funded institutions are also of high relevance as countries, including those in Asia, are moving strongly into boosting their national R&D efforts. Of much interest also is the use of alternative dispute resolution in the IP arena. Singapore has actively embarked on initiatives to boost our arbitration industry. With the confluence of a strong IP regime and favourable conditions for dispute resolution, Singapore could potentially play a major role in meeting these particular needs.
I am sure that the discussions here will be interesting and there will be worthwhile networking opportunities. Singapore has undergone much transformation and I hope that apart from the Forum programme, you will take the opportunity and devote some time to discovering our truly multi-cultural city. Who knows - by walking around Chinatown, Little India or Geylang Serai, you might even learn something about traditional knowledge and cultural expressions to help in your discussions!
Thank you and I wish all of you a successful Forum and Executive Committee Meeting.
Last updated on 26 Nov 2012