Singapore’s IP Week @ SG 2020: INTA Calls on IP Offices to Support SMEs and Innovate

Published: September 9, 2020

Screenshot of Singapore Week panel participants

The impact of COVID-19 on global health systems and business markets has been profound in scale. The United Nations has predicted that the pandemic will cost the world economy US $1 trillion this year alone.

Governments and pharmaceutical companies have rallied in the race to develop urgently needed vaccines and treatments, while large corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) alike have had to pivot their business models and deploy innovative solutions to survive significant economic challenges.

In the current climate, how might intellectual property (IP) offices contribute to the conversation and continue to be crucial anchors of innovation? This was the question posed to INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo and other IP leaders at a session during the IP Week @ SG 2020, hosted annually by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS).

The session, entitled “Keynote IP Leaders Panel: Accelerating Innovation, Recovery and Growth in the COVID-19 Era,” on August 26, featured Mr. Sanz de Acedo and officials from some of the world’s busiest and most innovative IP offices, including: Rena Lee, Chief Executive of the IPOS; Shen Changyu, China National Intellectual Property Administration Commissioner; Toshihide Kasutani, Japan Patent Office Commissioner; Tim Moss, Comptroller General and CEO of the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom; and Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The panelists examined the impact of COVID-19 on the IP field and discussed how IP offices can leverage data, expertise, and international networks to support creators and innovators seeking to cope with the longer-term impact of a pandemic.

In providing the private sector perspective, Mr. Sanz de Acedo shared INTA’s views on how brands have reacted and adjusted to new consumer behaviors and trends during the lockdown. Of concern, he emphasized that counterfeiting is also significantly on the rise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Sanz de Acedo said these trends represent opportunities for IP offices to educate consumers about the role of brands and innovation as well as to promote legislative changes to promote health and safety without affecting the role brands play in helping consumers make choices. He also highlighted the critical role of collaboration among stakeholders, including SMEs, entrepreneurs, e-commerce platforms, and social networks.

Specifically, Mr. Sanz de Acedo called on IP offices to bolster efforts to assist SMEs. According to the International Council for Small Business, formal and informal SMEs: make up more than 90 percent of all firms; account, on average, for 70 percent of total employment; and contribute approximately 50 percent of global GDP.

They’ve also been the business owners hit hardest by the economic fall-out from the pandemic. Mr. Sanz de Acedo said the IP community needs to look beyond the pandemic and create an environment for SMEs that fosters long-term growth and innovation. He called on the IP offices to “support them by simplifying access to IP, by providing additional support, by speeding the registration process so it becomes quicker, more reliable, and consistent, and last but not least, by also showing the financial value of IP.”

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2020 International Trademark Association