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8.183 Section 13(2) states that inventions which would encourage offensive, immoral or anti-social behaviour if published or exploited are not patentable.
8.184 The intention of Section 13(2) is to prevent the grant of patent rights for inventions which the general public would regard as abhorrent or from which the public need protection. However, it should be noted that the test relates to public perceptions – moral beliefs differ between individuals and care should be taken by Examiners to avoid applying their personal beliefs during examination. As a consequence, any objection under 13(2) should be referred to a Senior Examiner for discussion.
8.185 Section 13(3) states that for the purposes of Section 13(2), behaviour shall not be regarded as offensive, immoral or antisocial only because it is prohibited by any law in force in Singapore. Thus, a law may prohibit the use of an invention in Singapore, but this does not necessarily exclude it from patentability under Section 13(2). For example, the product could be manufactured in Singapore for export to a country where such prohibitions do not apply. Generally, it would be useful to consider the reason(s) behind any relevant legal prohibition in Singapore, in order to determine whether a Section 13(2) objection should be raised.
8.186 If an invention can be exploited legally albeit in accordance with stringent legal regulations, then an objection under Section 13(2) should generally not apply. For example, a pistol could be used inappropriately, but otherwise may have legitimate uses. In such cases no objection is raised under Section 13(2).
8.187 Section 27(3) states that the Registrar may omit from the specification of a published application for a patent any matter – (a) which in his opinion disparagesany person in a way likely to damage him; or (b) the publication or exploitation ofwhich would in his opinion be generally expected to encourage offensive, immoral or antisocial behaviour. While the examiner is not required to specifically look for such material in an application, where he becomes aware of such matter, he should discuss this with a Senior Examiner and inform Registry. Where this provision is used, the specification will contain a statement at the place where this has been applied that “certain matter has been suppressed from publication under Section 2 (3)”. Where a specification is so riddled with offending material that publication of any text does not make sense, then the whole specification may be suppressed from publication. It should be noted that any matter that has been omitted from publication under Section 2 (3) will also be closed to public inspection.
8.188 Section 33 deals with information prejudicial to defence of Singapore or safety of the public. According to Section 33(1):
Where an application for a patent is filed in the Registry (whether under this Act or any treaty or international convention to which Singapore is a party) and it appears to the Registrar that the application contains information of a description notified to him by the Minister as being information the publication of which might be prejudicial to the defence of Singapore, the Registrar shall give directions prohibiting or restricting the publication of that information or its communication to any specified person or description of persons.
Section 33(2) states that:
If it appears to the Registrar that any application so filed contains information the publication of which might be prejudicial to the safety of the public, he may give directions prohibiting or restricting the publication of that information or its communication to any specified person or description of persons until the end of a period not exceeding 3 months from the end of a period prescribed for the purposes of section 27.
8.189 Generally, a technology that is of exclusively military application (such as reactive vehicle armor) is more likely to be considered prejudicial to national security than a technology that is capable of more general application but also has military application (such as a rocket propulsion engine).
8.190 Where the specification describes a technology that is designed orhas the capacity to cause death, bodily harm, an epidemic, or substantial damage to properties, or which in the Examiner’s opinion may potentially be relevant under Section 33, he should discuss the application with a Senior Examiner and if necessary refer the application to Patent Registry for further advice. An objection under Section 13(2) may also be considered in such cases.
8.191 Biological agents and toxins are regulated under the Biological Toxins and Agents (BATA) Act (Cap. 24A) in Singapore. Biological agents are classified under the First to Fourth Schedules and toxins are listed in the Fifth Schedule. The Schedules can be downloaded from the Ministry of Health website, and is updated from time to time. Generally, biological agents contained in the First and Second Schedules, as well as the toxins listed in the Fifth Schedule are perceived to have greater potential for bioterrorism and/or to cause diseases; and transportation of any agents or toxins listed in these Schedules within Singapore by mail or public transportation is prohibited. Therefore, Examiners should exercise care when examining applications relating to these biological agents and toxins, as well as technologies concerning their transportation. If in doubt, the examiner should refer to a Senior Examiner for discussion.