ISTMA President’s Report 2021

Presented at ISTMA’s 3rd Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) on 29th March 2022 via Zoom

Murgiana Haq
Murgiana Haq

President, ISTMA


Thank you everyone for joining us this morning for our third AGM.

This is my report as your President.

Council members 2020-2022

Our current Council members serving for 2020-2022 comprises of

  • Myself as President
  • Moi Sok Ling as Vice President
  • Tasneem Haq as Honorary Secretary
  • Catherine Lee as Treasurer
  • Our Councillors for 2020 to 2022 are Lee Ai Ming, Jo-Ann See, Tan Kee Leng, Soh Kar Liang, Boo Yee Swan and Yvonne Tan.

Based on the Nomination Forms submitted our new Council Members for 2022- to 2024 are

  • Myself as President
  • Soh Kar Liang as Vice President
  • Tasneem Haq as Honorary Secretary
  • Jo Ann See as Treasurer
  • Our Councillors are Lee Ai Ming, Catherine Lee, Tan Kee Leng, Boo Yee Swan Yvonne Tan and Freeman Yu.
  • Sok Ling is stepping down from Council and we would all like to thank her for her hard work and dedication these past 4 years working as a protem Council member and then serving ISTMA Vice President. We also extend a warm welcome to Freeman Yu who joins ISTMA Council.

2021 was indeed a busy year. A very important milestone for our institute is the creation and development of our Register of Trade Mark Agents for members. Establishing this Register is one of our key drivers in our vision. All ISTMA members are now on our Register of Trade Mark Agents having met the eligibility criteria at the time of applying for membership.

As of 1 January 2022, each ISTMA member may use the description “ÏSTMA Registered Trade Mark Agent”.

This designation is significant as this status attributes professionalism and expertise in trade mark agency work. This designation serves to differentiate our members from other non- member trade mark agents.  This would place our members at an advantage in our competitive market and uneven playing field. So, I would encourage you to use this designation wisely and professionally, always complying with our ISTMA Code of Conduct and Bye- laws on the use of this designation and our ISTMA logo.  The Code of Conduct and bye -laws are published in our website. Along with the designation we have issued each member with a registration number, which remains valid so long as you are a member.

Our Council worked very hard to bring this vision to fruition and I would like to specially thank Kar Liang, Catherine and Tasneem for their hard work to bring this project to reality.

I now turn to our various committees of ISTMA and their contribution during the past year.

Governance & Government Relations Committee

This committee comprises of Sok Ling, Ai Ming, Jo-Ann and myself.

In August 2021, we submitted a six-page representation on the Public Consultation IP Amendment Bill, addressing specific issues relating to changes in trade mark examination procedure. My sincere thanks to all members who participated in providing their useful feedback.

We pursued publicity initiatives with the Ministry of Law and the Law Society of Singapore to enhance our recognition with these bodies. Most recently, an article about ISTMA was published in Law Society’s Jus News circulated on 22 February 2022.

Looking ahead, this Committee is working on a plan to align our Institute with recent government initiatives such as the Singapore IP Strategy (SIPS) 2030 and IP Grow. We also plan to engage with commercial bodies such as Spring, EDB, the Singapore Business Federation, advertising associations and educational institutions.

Apart from introducing ISTMA to these various bodies, the committee worked very hard to review our Constitution, drafting the ISTMA bye-laws for membership and the Code of Conduct. In time to come, we envisage creating different categories of membership to include other individuals who have an interest in trademarks and thereby expand our membership.

Membership & Marketing Committee

This committee comprises of Catherine, Kar Liang and Tasneem.

In addition to championing new membership drives, membership renewals and managing our accounts, this committee created and maintain our Register of Trade Mark Agents, our ISTMA website and our LinkedIn account. They also ensure that our members are kept up to date with the latest developments concerning trade mark case authorities, IPOS updates, practice directions and publicity for ISTMA webinars and webinars from other related organisations.

Looking ahead, our membership and marketing committee is also working on issuing a registration certificate to each ISTMA member and enhancing a website that can give members access to exclusive content to add value to their membership each year.

Education & Training Committee

This Committee is comprised of Yvonne, Yee Swan and Kee Leng.

In 2021, the Education and Training sub-committee organised three webinars. Firstly, we had a joint webinar with WIPO on 16th March 2021 on updates for Madrid Protocol filings and resolving disputes using WIPO services. This was our first webinar offered to ISTMA members.

We also hosted a webinar for CITMA on the 13th of April 2021. It was a great opportunity to introduce ourselves to CITMA’s Council, Ms. Tania Clark and Ms. Kate O’Rourke.

We hosted the first ISTMA-IPOS Online Dialogue on 29th October 2021 which was attended by a large panel of IPOS trade mark examiners. Some of the issues discussed included the examination of slogan trade marks, absolute ground objections, the reliance of foreign precedents, best practices for addressing specification objections and future plans to integrate AI into the trade mark examination process.

Looking ahead, our Education and Training Committee is planning to work with CITMA on a second webinar for CITMA members to give them some insight into local trade mark practice and examination of IRs designating Singapore. We will also reach out to WIPO to discuss a possible webinar on common mistakes and handy tips in completing IR forms for new applications and change of proprietor recordals. We plan to organise another IPOS Dialogue, this time with the examiners from the Hearing & Mediation Division to offer and discuss some useful pointers for inter partes proceedings.

If there are topics for webinars or seminars you would like to suggest for ISTMA to organise, please do not hesitate to let us know. We are always looking for opportunities to enhance the knowledge and skills of our members.

In summary, it has been a very busy but also a very rewarding year and I would like to personally thank our Councillors for their time, dedication, enthusiasm and cooperation to make our organisation a vibrant one.

Finally, I would like to thank you our fellow ISTMA members for all your support. I find that with each passing year there is a new agenda or a new opportunity that we need to be part of. In joining us, you are now a part of an important journey in framing Singapore’s IP landscape and joining an institute dedicated to trade mark developments and upscaling your skills as a trade mark practitioner. Our focus is to have high calibre trade mark practitioners, highly regarded and respected and to whom the public can rely on for proper guidance, advice and management of their trade mark matters.

You have joined us because you fit the bill. You have joined us because as with all things in life, we need to do more, achieve more and do better. You are a part of our trade mark practitioner’s community and I would particularly encourage each and every member to step forward and be counted. As you know in our trade mark community, visibility is of prime importance. One way to increase visibility would be to be in the forefront by participating and creating a name for yourself.

Our Institute is only 3 years old, but we have achieved a lot in this short span. We could do with more help with your participation and show of hands when we call for volunteers to work with our various Committees. This Institute is your institute and our exciting journey has only just begun.

Please be a part of this journey and join us as we endeavour towards more exciting opportunities in projects, education and training to name a few.

Thank you everyone.

29 March 2022