1. The number of patent applications filed during the first quarter of this year increased by 5.9%...due to business recovery
The total number of patent applications for intellectual property rights during the first quarter of this year as increased slightly, compared to the number of patent applications during the same period last year. According to the June 3, 2010 report from the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO, Commissioner: Soo-won LEE), the number of applications for intellectual property rights filed by March 2010 is 87,382, showing an increase of 5,9% (4,884) compared to 82,498 applications filed during the same period last year.
Classified by rights, the number of patent applications is 36,700 with an increase of 6.2% (compared to 34,544 last year), the number of trademark applications is 33,202 with an increase of 8.3% (compared to 30,668 last year), and the number of design applications is 14,135 with an increase of 4.3% (compared to 13,547 last year).
However, the number of utility model applications is 3,345 with a decrease of 10.5% compared to 3,739 applications filed during the same period last year.
The number of the applications filed by Korean applicants during this period increased by 6.1% compared to that filed during the same period last year, whereas, the number of the applications filed by foreign applicants decreased by 14.8%. Specifically, the number of the applications filed by Japanese applicants was greatly decreased by 12.4%.
This increase in the number of patent applications is considered to be the result of companies (which were passive about business due to the global financial crisis last year) restarting technology commercialization according to recent trends in business recovery.
2. “Don’t move, semiconductor-related patent troll!”
The worldwide semiconductor manufacturers (including Samsung Electronics and Hynix Semiconductor among the others) agreed to jointly respond to the misuse of trials by companies specializing in only licensing . NPE owns only patents, without doing business, so that NPE makes profits by negotiation with or trial against companies. It is rare that the global companies form a common front against NPE patent holders.
On May 27, 2010, a general meeting of the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) was held at the Shilla Hotel. The semiconductor companies attending the meeting decided to discuss specific countermeasures in the next general meeting by investigating damages caused by the misuse of trials by NPE. A person in the related industry explained the background of such a decision, saying that “the representatives of the semiconductor companies have agreed on the point that NPE has a greater negative aspect of interrupting industrial development by the misuse of trial although it has an positive aspect of activating a sleeping patent”.
According to Patent Freedom, a US patent information company, NPE has brought 48 trials against Samsung Electronics which holds first place in the world D-RAM ranking. NPE also has raised 36 trials against Toshiba, 24 trials against Intel, and 25 trials against Fujitsu, respectively.
In this meeting, Jong-kahb KIM, the chairman of the board of directors of Hynix, submitted a motion to prepare a common counterplan of the semiconductor industry against NPE. It is said that European, Chinese and Taiwanese companies showed a positive agreement with Mr. KIM. After the semiconductor companies investigate the damage situation by country, they will discuss a plan to submit opinion to each country government in a meeting which will be held in Fukuoka, Japan in May, 2011.
The representatives of the global semiconductor companies attended the meeting of WSC held this year. They include Oh-hyun KWON, the chairman of the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association and president of Samsung Electronics, Jong-kahb KIM, the chairman of the board of directors of Hynix, Morris CHANG, the chairman of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Haruki OKADA, the president of Fujitsu, and Richard Clemmer, the president of NXP Semiconductors.
3. LG Innotek first commercializes a quantum dot back light unit (BLU) in the world
In the world, LG Innotek first starts producing a light emitting diode (LED) BLU using a quantum dot. When the size and shape of the crystal are controlled to a substance in a sphere shape, the size of which is several nano meters, the quantum dot receives light from the outside and is able to express all visible rays of a desired wavelength. Specifically, the quantum dot attracts attention as a material for the next generation BLU because it greatly enhances the color expressiveness of a display such as an LCD. However, any countries have yet to succeed in commercialization of the quantum dot because it is difficult to secure reliability and stability.
LG Innotek announced that it would conclude a business cooperation agreement for the commercialization of the quantum dot with Nanosys, a US company specializing in nano technology, and would start producing the ‘quantum dot BLU’.
Around September, 2010, LG Innotek will start the production of the quantum dot BLU for medium and small LCD modules, such as mobile phones and will expand the application range to TVs in the future. To this end, LG Innotek is building the relevant production facilities in Gumi, Gyungsangbook-do. LG Innotek had exchanged the MOU for research and development cooperation in relation to the quantum dot with Nanosys in August, 2009.
LG Innotek completed the development of the quantum dot BLU for a mobile phone through the research and development for four (4) months and exhibited the related product, “CES 2010”, at the beginning of this year. A conventional BLU for a mobile phone uses a white LED. However, unlike the convention BLU, the quantum dot BLU uses a blue LED.
Since the quantum dot is a substance to actually replace a conventional LED yellow fluorescent substance which is highly likely to bring about a patent dispute, there is concern as to how the quantum dot will influence on the LED industry in the future.
4. Improved bio medicine and medical products are popular
As biosimilars become the conversation topic, interest in improved bio medicine and medical products is increasing.
The Korea Food & Drug Administration announced that in September of this year, it would prepare a guideline covering the scope of improved bio medicine and medical products and the criteria for approval and examination thereof.
The concept of improved bio medicine and medical products called ‘super biosimilars’ or ‘bio vectors’ is different from that of similar bio medicine and medical products called ‘biosimilars’.
Biosimilars are medicine and medical products made to be maximally similar to the original products. To this end, the quality and the non-clinical and clinical comparability of the biosimilars are to be proved.
Objects to be copied are generally protein medicine and medical products, such as human growth hormone, Erythropoietin (EPO) (hematopoietin or hemopoietic growth factors), and granulocyte colony stimulating factors (G-CSF). For example, the human growth hormone is to be administered one per day. However, the improved bio medicine and medical products for the human growth hormone prolongs the administration period to one week, thereby improving the convenience.
A spokesperson of the bio industries said that the competition for the development of super biosimilars is strong in the cases of EPO and G-CSF because the patents of the second generation original products will be expired about 2014.
Super biosimilars have had an urgent high profile by multinational pharmaceutical companies. MSD which announced the advance of biosimilars in 2008 is in the process of developing the super biosimilar of ‘Aranesp’ which is a