In Singapore, the question of whether an intellectual property right (such as a registered trademark or a patent) can be enforced by way of an infringement action against the sale of genuine goods placed on the market in another country and then parallel imported into Singapore, is governed by an area of law called 'exhaustion'.
Singapore's exhaustion defences are provided for in the legislation governing patent and trademark law. Both are international in nature. In other words, the placing of genuine goods on the market anywhere in the world exhausts the IP right owner's ability to use its IP in Singapore to prevent importation of those goods into Singapore and subsequent disposal of them in Singapore.
However, for patents, the general international exhaustion defence is subject to certain limitations in respect of pharmaceuticals. Where the limitations apply, Singapore's approach to exhaustion of patents is national in nature.
For more detail on the law regarding exhaustion in Singapore, in respect of patents and trademarks, please read on…
Singapore's exhaustion regime governs rules on parallel imports of genuine goods into Singapore - what genuine goods can be imported and from where. If your business is involved in or interested in the movement into Singapore of goods protected by a trademark or a patent, then you need to understand what the law on 'exhaustion' of intellectual property is in Singapore.
If you have any questions, please contact Vivian Wei Cheng or Denise Ee.
 Chapter 221; Original enactment Act 21 of 1994; revised edition 2005