Many exporters talk about the benefits of selling via cross border e-commerce to Chinese market. When I talk with companies who want to import to China, I often recommend them to have a look at other options.
It’s not easy nor cheap to enter the Chinese market, and E-commerce is growing strong elsewhere. Even if the competition can be more fierce in countries like Singapore, it can be worth to give it a try.
Before you start selling overseas, it’s important that you register your trademark. Therefore, I’ve written this guide that explains all the crucial information you need to know when registering a trademark in Singapore.
Singapore trademark law
In 1998, Singapore’s government passed the Singapore Trade Marks Act, to meet the Paris Convention. It’s a member of many other international conventions, such as:
- Madrid Protocol
- Nice Agreement
- Patent Cooperation Treaty
- WIPO Copyright Treaty
Singapore classifies products and services in accordance with the Nice Classification, sometimes referred to as the International Classification of Goods and Services (ICGS).
More than 150 countries, even including Mainland China, are members of the Nice Classification. This is a great benefit as countries can cooperate cross border, and support each other in case of any IP conflicts.
You’ll find products and services divided into 45 different classes (more about these in detail later).
Process when registering a trademark in Singapore
You’ll find the trademark registration process to be transparent and straightforward in Singapore, compared to registering a trademark in China. Singapore is famous for being efficient and there’s much information available covering this topic.
IPOS (the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore) is the authority responsible to manage applications for trademark registrations. The process is divided into the following steps:
First of all, you need to submit an application form called TM4, which can be found on IPOS’ website. You’ll also find a tutorial on YouTube that explains how you should fill in the TM4 form.
You need to include the following information:
- The name and the address of the applicant
- A graphical representation of the trademark (picture)
- List of products or services you wish to register
- A declaration how you will use the trademark
The application cost is S$240-341 per class of products or services, if you make the application online.
If you do a manual filing with papers, the cost is S$347 per class for both products or services.
Keep in mind that if you apply for the trademark online, you need to use pre-approved descriptions of the products, as states by IPOS.
When you’ve submitted the TM4 form, IPOS will start making an official examination to see if you’re eligible registering for the trademark. Updates of the registration might be needed.
In case you need to update the application, you should submit a new form called TM27.
The fee is S$40 per class, or per trademark. Other costs might apply, as informed by IPOS at that time.
If they accept your application, your trademark will be listed in the Trade Marks Journal, where an inspection of 2 months takes place. If it’s not accepted, IPOS will provide a report with more details why your trademark registration has been rejected.
Keep in mind that you have a time period of 4 months to correct the application, if rejected.
As mentioned above, your trademark will go through an inspection in the Trade Marks Journal during a time period of 2 months, prior to publication.
If an opposition is made, the application process will stop temporarily, waiting for the outcome of the results.
4. Registration certificate
If you don’t face any opposition, or wins a case if there’s an opposition, IPOS will issue a Registration Certificate of the trademark.
If your trade mark application is not opposed or if the outcome of the opposition proceeding is in your favor, you will receive a Registration Certificate from IPOS. Your trademark is granted protection for 10 years.
For how long time is the trademark registration valid?
The same as it goes in Mainland China, your trademark registration will be valid for 10 years.
Be sure to re-apply for the trademark, before this time period has expired.
Online trademark database
Singapore’s trademark online database can be found at IP2’s website.
If you want to find other trademarks, you can simply go to:
- Search and Enquiry/ eAlert – Trade Marks
- Boolean search – Trade Marks
There are 45 classes in total, where 34 are dedicated to physical products and where the remaining 11 are used for services.
Below I’ve listed the most relevant classes available, in case you sell retail products:
For laundry detergents, perfumes, soaps, essential oils, cosmetics and hair lotions.
Pharmaceutical and veterinary preparations, dietetic substances adapted for medical use, food for babies, material for stopping teeth, dental wax.
Machines and machine tools; motors and engines (except for land vehicles, and more.
Apparatus for lighting, heating, steam generating, cooking, refrigerating, drying, ventilating, water supply and sanitary purposes.
Furniture, mirrors, picture frames, goods (not included in other classes) of wood, cork, reed, cane, and more.
Household or kitchen utensils and containers (not of precious metal or coated therewith), combs and sponges, brushes (except paint brushes), brush-making materials, articles for cleaning purposes, glassware, porcelain, and more.
Clothing, footwear, headgear.
Games and playthings, gymnastic and sporting articles not included in other classes.
Meat, fish, poultry and game. Meat extract; preserved, dried and cooked fruits and vegetables; jellies, jams, compotes; eggs, milk and milk products; edible oils and fats
Coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, rice, tapioca, sago, artificial coffee; flour and preparations made from cereals, bread, pastry and confectionery, ices; honey, treacle; yeast, baking-powder; salt, mustard; vinegar, sauces (condiments); spices; ice.
Agricultural, horticultural and forestry products and grains nor included in other classes; live animals; fresh fruits and vegetables; seeds, natural plants and flowers; foodstuffs for animals, malt.
Beers; mineral and aerated waters and other non-alcoholic drinks; fruit drinks and fruits juices; syrups and other preparations for making beverages.
Alcoholic beverages (except beers).
How can I renew my trademark?
You should renew your trademark not earlier than 6 months before the expiry date, and not later than 6 months after the expiry date.
Keep in mind that the Registrar shall send you a notification, prior to the expiry of the trademark registration.
Application form for renewal of trademark
To renew your trademark, you need to fill in an application form called TM 19. You can find the form on IP2’s website,
For how long time will my renewed trademark registration be valid?
The renewed registration will be valid for an additional 10 years, the same as the original time period.
The new term will be set from the date of expiry of the old trademark registration.
How can I do a trademark search?
You can simply visit IP2, which is an e-services portal managed by IPOS.
You’ll be directed to a page where you can make the trademark search online directly.
Registering a trademark in Singapore is straightforward and you can find a lot of helpful material and get help from IPOS (the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore). This is not the case in Mainland China, where you often need to seek help from a law firm. Still, the process is very similar to its neighbour, Malaysia It’s generally easier to register a trademark in Hong Kong SAR as well.
The costs to register a trademark are not that high either, and will set you back S$240-341 per class, in the case of products.
Singapore follows the Nice Classification system, which is used in over 150 countries. In total, you have 45 classes to choose among, where 34 are dedicated to products/goods and 11 are used for services.
You can find all application forms online, but I also suggest you to contact IPOS directly, either by email or phone, for personal consultations.
Do you need to register a trademark in Singapore? Fill in the form below to get in touch with one of the leading trademark registration companies.
If you need to register a trademark and look for a trademark registration company, you can fill in the form below to get in touch with the agent we recommend at the moment. You’ll also get a 10% discount for trademark searches!