Our Singapore Consumer team is delighted to present our Doing Business in Singapore guide. The following overview takes you through intellectual property challenges while the full publication also provides an overview of consumer protection laws, product regulation, potential litigation concerns, changing tariffs and customs, key data privacy matters, and other issues that could impact businesses looking to enter Singapore consumer markets or conduct business in Singapore.
In 2019, Singapore was ranked no. 2 for "Best Country in the World to do business" by the World Bank. Singapore is seen as a gateway to the Asian markets, where spending by 3.2 billion middle-class consumers could hit US$55 trillion by 2030. Attuned to the similarities and differences between Western and Asian consumers, as well as the diversity within Asia, Singapore has been the choice of many multinational corporations in the consumer sector that have set up their regional headquarters here. There are many reasons for this, including the openness of Singapore's economy, its general financial stability, government incentives, extensive network of double tax treaties, strong infrastructure, and reputation for fairness and impartiality in commercial law. While Singapore is known for its pro-business stance, the country also has an advanced regulatory framework which provides a variety of protections for consumers, but is, at the same time, designed to ensure business competition is still able to thrive and innovation is encouraged.
Singapore is consistently ranked amongst the top countries in the world with respect to protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs). In a recent IPR Index report, Singapore was ranked the third best country in the world in IP protection perception, as well as amongst the region's best in copyright protection. In addition, Singapore is also a member of the Madrid International Trademark System, which ensures the efficient recognition and registration of internationally registered trademarks in Singapore. In the near future, consumers can also look forward to further improvements to the current IPR protection regime. The recent passing of the Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Bill further enhances the standing of Singapore as a Global IP Hub in Asia as well as a hub for international IP Disputes. The proposed changes to the present copyright laws will take into account the current digital environment and support individuals and businesses in this environment.
Consumers in Singapore have ample legal recourse against IPR offenders, by virtue of the strict and business-centric intellectual property laws in Singapore. For instance, civil infringement of IPRs such as copyright and trademarks can be made out without needing to show any requisite intention by the infringer to infringe. The Court of Appeal, the highest court of the land, has also confirmed in a recent decision that middlemen traders can be found liable of the tort of passing off if they put into circulation goods which are inherently likely to deceive ultimate consumers, even if the immediate purchasers are not deceived. In addition to civil liabilities for IPR infringement, potential criminal liabilities under the Copyright Act and the Trade Marks Act also act as a powerful deterrent to prevent commercial dealing of goods infringing on IPRs.
For a wider legal perspective, please download the full guide. Further overviews cover consumer protection laws, product regulation, potential litigation concerns, intellectual property challenges, changing tariffs and customs, key data privacy matters, and other issues that could impact businesses looking to enter Singapore consumer markets or conduct business in Singapore.
This publication is the third in a series of Doing Business guides that help consumer companies adapt to regional challenges, laws, and regulations when entering new markets.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.