Sections 46 and 73 of the Singapore Patents Act as amended sets out the rights of co-owners of patents and patent applications.

Section 46 is largely based on Section 36 of the UK Patents Act, and Section 73 is largely based on Section 66 of the UK Patents Act, so the provisions are very similar, if not identical.

The provisions for co-ownership set out in Section 46 may be over-ridden by contract between the co-owners.

In the absence of this, Section 46 provides that :

  • each co-owner is entitled to an equal undivided share in the patent

  • a co-owner is entitled to do any otherwise infringing act for his own benefit, by himself or by his agents, without requiring the consent of (or the need to account to) any of the other co-owners

    There is a provision that neither of these provisions should be taken to affect the mutual rights or obligations of trustees or of the personal representatives of a deceased person, or their rights or obligations as such

  • a co-owner may not, without the consent of the other co-owners, grant a licence under the patent or assign or mortgage a share in the patent

  • anyone may supply one of the co-owners “with the means, relating to an essential element of the invention, for putting the invention into effect”, i.e., anyone may perform an act which would otherwise be considered contributory infringement, without actually infringing the patent

  • where a patented product is disposed of by any co-owner to any person, that person and any other person claiming through him is entitled to deal with the product in the same way as if it had been disposed of by a sole registered proprietor

The above provisions apply to patent applications as well as patents.

In relation to the right to bring proceedings for infringement, Section 73 provides that

  • any co-owner may bring such proceedings without agreement of the others

  • if he does so, he has to make the other co-owners parties to the proceedings

  • if any of the other co-owners are made defendants, they will not be liable for any costs or expenses unless they enter an appearance and take part in the proceedings

Note that as both Sections 46 and 73 refer in part to other Sections of the Act, please do not treat this summary as exhaustive.

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