Reading the Tea Leaves in Singapore: Who Will Be Left Holding the Bag for Secondary Trademark Infringement on the Internet?

Calboli, Irene

This Article explores the issue of secondary liability in Singapore trademark law, with particular attention to intermediaries on the Internet, including Internet service providers (ISPs), e-commerce companies, search engines, website operators, online financial service providers and social media sites. Section 27(5) of the Singapore Trade Marks Act attributes liability to those who use a mark “knowing or having reasons to believe” that such use is not authorized by the trademark owner or licensee. More precisely, the provision excludes trademark liability for those “persons” who use a trademark in the course of trade, namely “for labelling or packaging goods” or as “a sign” on commercial documents or in advertising, provided that they “do[] not know nor ha[ve] reason to believe” that the owner of the mark or his licensee has not consented to such use. Although the provision was adopted before widespread use of the Internet, its wording excludes Internet intermediaries from liability just as it excludes intermediaries in the brick- and-mortar world.

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Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts

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July 24, 2015