1. About 30% of Korean exporters were in trouble by damages to their intellectual property (IP) rights
According to a research conducted by the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO, Commissioner: Jung-sik KOH) on the actual condition where Korean companies’ IP rights were infringed, 22% of the Korean companies (29% of exporters) were damaged by infringement of their IP rights. (IP rights include a patent right, a utility model right, a trademark right and a design right.)
As a result of the research, 1,319 companies, 22% of 6,000 companies responding to the research request, were damaged by the infringement of the IP rights. 584 exporters, 29% of 2,038 exporters, experienced the infringement of the IP rights in foreign countries.
The companies which had the experience of the infringement of the IP rights in foreign countries were classified by businesses. 20.5% of the companies are in electrics and electronics, 11.4% in services and distribution, 8.6% in fabrics and clothes (including bags and footwear), and 8.6 % in machines and tools.
Upon export, only 733 Korean exporters, 36.6% of 2,038 exporters (that is, four of ten companies) had conducted the IP right searches, such as the search of competitors’ or foreign countries’ patents similar to the technology patents of the Korean exporters, and the licensing-related search. Many companies did not search the IP rights before they exported. This fact is considered as a factor increasing the number of disputes on the infringement of IP rights during the future export process.
Further, about 40% of the companies responding to the research request answered they never did any activities (for example, an increase in the number of applications to be filed at home or abroad, an activity of technological standardization, an education of IP right, and the like) to prevent the damages of IP rights. This indicates that the advance preparations of the companies are insufficient.
2. The management of the national R&D’s IP is strengthened
The Korean government strengthens its policy control of the intellectual property of university and government research and development (R&D) and it strongly drives to prepare the relevant regulations and systems.
According to the Committee on Intellectual Property (CIP) under the National Science & Technology Council (NSTC), CIP will cooperate with the Intellectual Property Committee (IPC) under the Prime Minister’s Office. When universities and Korean public research institutes perform the national R&D tasks, CIP not only simply provides the results of research but also plans to present the policies to make profitability by IP creation and to secure the original technology.
CIP newly established as a second specialized committee of NSTC consists of twelve relevant experts including researchers, enterprisers and patent attorneys. In March, it is expected that the Committee under the Prime Minister’s Office will be established when the Intellectual Property Council consisting of seventeen vice-ministers will make the relevant law.
CIP will have a policy requiring an advance search of related patents in the case of performing the R&D task with research expenses of one billion Korean Won or more. Also, CIP will have a policy to secure the efficiency of the research task by enhancing the chance of creating IP. According to an analysis, the advance search of related patents should have been performed to make a corresponding patent needed in securing the original technology. However, such an advance search has not been performed in most of the national R&D tasks and therefore, the efficiency of the R&D investment is not high.
A chairman of CIP said, “[An] institute with a rate of technical transfer to research expenses being over 1% is very rare” the chairman then emphasized that many universities should have the rate being over 1%, at the minimum, even though not reaching the level (3%) of MIT in USA.
In order to achieve the excellent research results as intellectual properties, the management of the results of projects will be strengthened by preparing the relevant systems. Except for a small number of universities and public research institutes, most universities and institutes lack a patent department. CIP will have a policy to require that the universities and public research institutes with the R&D budget of more that fifty billion Korean Won have a patent department. In addition, CIP will present the regulations that those with the R&D budget of less than fifty billion Korean Won be supported by a base agency. Also, CIP will greatly expand and strengthen the Technology Licensing Office (TLO) program which has supported only ten universities and a small number of public research institutes.
3. Samsung Electronics and Sharp agreed to withdraw the LCD patent trial
Samsung Electronics and Sharp reconciled the battle of the LCD patent infringement trial which had been pending for about last two and a half years. Samsung Electronics gets free from the patent battle but complete technical independence from Sharp is postponed.
According to a February 8, 2010 report, Samsung Electronics and Sharp of Japan agreed to totally withdraw the LCD-related patent infringement trial which has been pending and they concluded a patent cross license on February 5, 2010. A spokesperson of Samsung Electronics added that Samsung Electronics agreed to withdraw all of the trials which have been pending in USA, Japan and Europe.
The spokesperson expected that this would be an opportunity to build the win-win relationship in the high-performance LCD industries, by terminating the consumptive patent infringement trials relating to the LCD technology between the two companies, and concluding the patent cross licensing.
Based on this agreement, Samsung Electronics gets to be out of the patent battle with Sharp, which has been pending in relation to the LCD driving and module technology, among others. However, as Samsung Electronics again licenses the vertical alignment (VA) patent, it is the evaluation that Samsung Electronics failed to gain independence from the Sharp technology. The patent battle with Sharp had risen since Samsung Electronics decided not to conclude the license agreement relating to the VA patent for which Samsung Electronics had continuously paid. The two companies have been in a fierce battle for the LCD patent in the US district court and International Trade Commission (ITC) from 2007.
During the patent battle, the two companies applied the mass-production technology avoiding the other’s patent, to avoid the import prohibition actions, while they discussed the cross license agreement or the like. Meantime, Samsung Electronics made many efforts to develop the process technology to avoid Sharp’s patent(s).
4. KAIST, a team led by Prof. Dong-su HAN, has developed an indoor location recognition technology of a smart phone
A Korean research team has developed the indoor location recognition technology of a smart phone with the Wi-Fi function, such as the Android phone of Google and the iPhone of Apple.
Therefore, the additional services based on the indoor location recognition are expected to be widely used. For example, people in one space like a meeting room can directly transmit or exchange memos, name-cards, pictures or the like, without using e-mails. Further, when a user of a smart phone enters a specific place, the smart phone is automatically converted to a vibration mode.
On February 8, 2010, the team led by Prof. Han of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) announced that they developed the technology of recognizing the smart phone location information by a room unit, using the Wi-Fi signal information only, without installing any special devices in the room where the GPS signals do not reach.
This technology is a unique method