Singapore intellectual property officer nominated for UN top role

The first Singaporean tipped to be the next director general of the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation, Daren Tang, was selected from an initial list of 10 candidates and, if confirmed, would be the first in the country to assume a top UN role.

A Singaporean officer has been nominated for the role of director general of the United Nations (UN) World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), making him the first from the country to take on a top UN role, if confirmed. Daren Tang was picked from an initial list of 10 candidates and his nomination would need to be approved when the WIPO General Assembly convenes in May. 

If confirmed, he would be WIPO's fifth director general and would begin official duties from October 1 for a six-year term, said the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) in a statement Thursday. A specialised agency under UN, WIPO manages IP services, policies, information, and cooperation, and helps member states develop their capabilities and infrastructure to embrace IP as a catalyst for economic development and innovation. 

Tang currently is chief executive of IPOS, which is a statutory board parked under Singapore's Law Ministry. 

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He is credited for driving IPOS' path "from an IP registry and regulator into an innovation agency". The government agency pointed to "major updates" to the country's IP Hub Masterplan as well as legislative and policy reforms to the IP regime. There has also been increased international engagement, with IPOS currently participating in cooperation agreements with more than 70 regional and international partners.

Last August, the Singapore office announced several initiatives aimed at fuelling innovation in the region and speeding up patent applications in key emerging technologies, such as finech, cybersecurity, and robotics. It also inked agreements with countries such as the United Kingdom and Brazil to identify potential collaboration in the areas of IP and patent work. These were geared towards boosting Singapore's role as a hub to facilitate technological work and fuel economic growth for the city-state as well as the region, IPOS said. 

It also launched a mobile app that allows businesses and startups to apply for trademark protection, which it said could cut the process from the up to 60 minutes to under 10 minutes. Noting that the number of trademark applications in Singapore had climbed 30% over the last five years, IPOS said the app was integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) technology so it could identify similar trademarks on the IPOS register and prevent applicants from filing for trademarks that were too similar to existing ones. 

Called IPOS Go, the app is available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. 

Singapore in 2013 unveiled a 10-year plan to position itself as the global IP hub in Asia via key initiatives that included an IP financing scheme to encourage banks to recognise IP as an asset class and enable IP-rich companies to raise capital more easily using their patent assets.

According to IPOS, Singapore last year ranked second in the world for IP protection by the World Economic Forum and has been one of the top 10 countries in WIPO's annual Global Innovation Index since 2015.

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