Comprehensive Guide to Trademark Registration and Licensing in Singapore


Trademarks aren’t fun to deal with. Anything involving business and tons of forms isn’t fun, really. That’s why we want to get these very-un-fun things out of the way as quickly and efficiently as possible.

But you have to get this trademark in Singapore (you have your reasons), and you have a lot of questions.

We have the answers.

First, how do trademarks work in Singapore?

Trademarks are essentially the same in Singapore as they are in the US, with a few minor differences. Like all other trademarks, their primary function is to protect your brand.

Singapore follows the first-to-file system, which essentially means that whoever files trademark registration paperwork first has dibs.

When you register a trademark in Singapore, you can then:

  • Add ® to your logo or brand name
  • Sell and license your brand
  • Take legal action against parties that use your brand without authorization

What is trademark licensing?

With trademark licensing, the trademark owner (the Licensor or Proprietor) signs an agreement with a third party (the Licensee) that states the Licensee can use the trademark under specific terms and conditions.

What do I need to register a trademark?

Your trademark must meet some registration criteria before acceptance. Before registering, double-check your trademark for these requirements.

Trademarks must:

  • Be distinctive
  • Distinguish your goods/services from others
  • Be able to be represented graphically
  • Not be descriptive of the goods/services
  • Not be easily confused with an existing registered trademark


According to the Nice Classification system, to register your trademark, you must appropriately determine the classes of your goods/services. IPOS offers a useful classification database to help you identify your classes, helping prevent an objection to your application later on.


The cost of the trademark registration varies. Here’s the breakdown:

How do I register a trademark in Singapore?

After you run through what you need for your trademark, take these steps to register it:

Step 1: Application

You need a graphical representation of your trademark, the classes you wish to register your trademark under, a declaration of your use/intention to use the trademark, and the application fee.

You can apply online or manually.

Step 2: Examination

This is the Examination Stage, where the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) examines your trademark to determine if it is registrable.

If your application is accepted, it’s published in the Trade Marks Journal. If there are issues, the examiner may direct amendments to the application, which call for S$40 per class/trademark.

If you file manually, there will be an extra fee.

Step 3: Publication

Once your trademark is accepted, it’s published in the Trade Marks Journal for public inspection for two months. As long as no parties object to your trademark application, it will proceed to registration.

If your application is opposed, the application process is suspended until the opposition’s outcome is determined. In such a situation, it’s ideal to work with a local Singaporean trademark attorney to assist you with the rest of the procedure. Doing so will help avoid a trademark application refusal.

Step 4: Registration

Finally, let’s presume your application isn’t opposed, or the opposition proceedings turn out in your favor. In that case, your trademark is registered, and you will receive a certificate of registration from IPOS.

What can’t be trademarked?

Not everything can be registered as a trademark. There are a few exceptions to take note of before submitting your applications.

Your trademark cannot:

  • Be descriptive (good, super, etc.)
  • Be common to your trade
  • Be identical to others
  • Misrepresent the quality, nature, or origin of the goods or services)
  • Cause confusion of earlier filed marks
  • Be identical or similar to well-known marks
  • Offend or promote immoral behavior

Do I need to register my trademark?

Technically, any business that intends to use its brand name or logo as an identifier can use ™, and it doesn’t need to be officially registered. However, this leaves an opportunity for another business to “claim” that trademark by taking advantage of the first-to-file system.

It’s safer to register your trademark before you begin using it to prevent (costly) legal battles later on.

In short…

While it isn’t necessarily simple, registering your trademark in a foreign country doesn’t have to be tricky.

Before applying, be prepared by ensuring:

  • Your mark meets all requirements
  • You have the application fees

You know which classes you will be filing for


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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