Contributed by: Wang Si Ying Sarah
Edited by: Lenon Ong and Benjamin Ho of the IPSA Core Team
Intellectual property (“IP”) laws and rights are increasingly relevant in today’s digital economy. However, the elements of the relevant legislations remains relatively unknown to businesses and the legally untrained. IPSA member Sarah Wang opines that this may have the consequence of miring innocent individuals, often unaware of legal effects and ramifications, into legal conflicts.
For example, Twelve Cupcakes, one of Singapore’s beloved confectionary chains, was mired in a legal dispute with the Singapore Press Holdings (“SPH”) over Twelve Cupcakes’ alleged unauthorised reproduction of the SPH’s article which was featuring its brand and products. Arguably, Twelve Cupcakes had bona fide intentions in promoting its business by capitalising on SPH’s piece which covered its brand name, yet it became entangled into a web of copyright issues surrounding the reproduction of SPH’s article. In this instance, SPH clarified that others were allowed to post links of the article, but the ownership rights remained solely in the hands of the author and ought not to be infringed.
Sarah further opines that that simpler, non-legal remedies may better resolve or prevent IP issues and controversies in the future. This includes increasing education and raising awareness on the functions and essentials of IP law . In her opinion, Twelve Cupcakes suffered legal repercussions due to a minor technicality, and had simply made a bona fide mistake in believing that their promotions were guileless. IP law is undisputedly a panacea for IP rights holders who are seeking to protect their creative works; yet at the same time, it has its pitfalls for the under-resourced.
With this in mind, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) offers free and/or affordable IP clinics for individuals and enterprises, and clinic sessions are by appointment only (more details here). IPOS has also recently launched the Future Leaders in INnovation Transformation (FLINT) programme, which aims to raise the awareness of IP rights, and to promote the utilisation of IP by young innovators and entrepreneurial students, while IPSA also shares IP-related content to key stakeholders and students, with the hopes of raising the awareness of IP knowledge to not only students, but also the general public.