1. The “patent prosecution highway (PPH)” between the Republic of Korea and Germany has been open since July
On June 30, 2010, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO, Commissioner: Soo-won LEE) announced that the patent prosecution highway (PPH) trial program between KIPO and the German Patent and Trademark Office would be in operation from July 2010. When the same application is filed in the countries making an agreement about the PPH and it is earlier examined and a result of the examination is decided in either country, it is promptly examined in the other country, using the examination results in the country where it has been earlier examined.
Since the PPH trial program has been in operation, a period from the filing of a patent application to the grant of a patent right in Germany is expected to be shortened from about 1-2 years to about 9 months.
KIPO has made the agreements with the Patent Offices of seven countries including Japan, the USA, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Canada and have operated the PPH system.
A spokesperson of KIPO said, “[A]s KIPO has operated this PPH system with the German Patent and Trademark Office with which Korean companies have filed the most applications, among the European countries, the patent applications filed by Korean companies will be more promptly examined.”
2. The Republic of Korea with the mobile phone patents will break the barrier by Apple
The pride battle between Google, ‘the number one of searches’, and Apple, ‘the rising strong’, has spread into a patent battle. Specially, it is known that Google has purchased and collected, through the Korean companies, the mobile phone patents which Apple does not hold.
This is interpreted that Google is trying to build the Android alliance against the Apple iPhone, by setting the Republic of Korea, a powerful country of manufacturing mobile phones, at the head.
According to the relevant industry, Google has requested Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics supplying the Android Operation System to assign the mobile phone patents which Apple does not hold. It is interpreted that Google intends to be in the advance guard of the Anti-Apple counter-line by collecting the relevant technical patents which are the weakness of Apple, giving a notice about a large-scale patent attack to Apple.
In March 2010, Apple sued HTC, a Taiwanese company manufacturing Google Smart Phones, for the illegal use of 20 patents. Thereupon, Google started purchasing patents.
A spokesperson of the relevant industry said, “[L]ast month, Google requested us to assign our own mobile phone patent(s) which Apple does not have,” and “[W]e have been sufficiently reviewing the possibility of assigning the patent(s) as [Google] has concentrated on Android phones in the global smart phone market.”
Apple owns about 200 patents relating to iPhone, covering the characteristic function of iPhone to release lock by touch and the various detailed functions (such as a multitasking system) required for driving a smart phone. Therefore, it is a matter of primary concern in the Google camp to find the core patents to break such a patent barrier.
3. The Republic of Korea swept the next generation display market
A Korean display industry is reported as sweeping the world OLED (organic light emitting diode) market rapidly rising as the next generation display. According to KIPO, the UBI SANUP Research, a market special research institute, announced through a ‘2010 OLED Annual Report’ that Korean OLED companies had sales of $533.6 million in 2009, holding 71.3% of the world market in this field.
This shows a 19.1% increase, compared with a 52.5% market share in 2008. Sales also increased by more than 2 times, compared with $253.38 million.
Japan with a 13.6% market share and Taiwan with a 12.6% are in 2nd and 3rd places, respectively.
Keeping Korean display companies from being the sole lead is considered as resulting from the continuous effort for the development of new technology and the creation of markets, based on the stable panel manufacturing basic technology.
The number of the OLED-related patent applications filed with KIPO is 10 during the period of 1992-1996. After this period, however, the number of the patent applications had shown a steady increase and it rapidly increased to a total of 1,822 by 2008.
Classified by applicants, Korean applicants are 65.8% which is much greater than the foreign applicants including Japanese applicants, 23.3%, and US applicants, 8.1%, among others.
Classified by companies, Samsung SDI filed 584 applications, LG Display filed 221 applications, Seiko Epson filed 78 applications, and Kodak filed 52 applications.
A spokesperson of KIPO said, “Since OLED has a response speed faster by more than 1,000 times in comparison with LCD (liquid crystal display), it is proper to realize a high-definition technology such as 3D. In addition, since it can be rolled like a paper, it is easily carried. Thus, OLED is attracted as a ‘fantastic/dreamy display’. Furthermore, since OLED uses less harmful materials compared with LCD, it is expected to steadily grow as a green industry.”
4. Samsung and Hynix are leading the development of P-RAM
As Samsung Electronics has succeeding in commercializing the P-RAM of the biggest capacity in the world, Samsung Electronics and Hynix are reported as leading the development of Korean P-RAM (phase-change memory).
According to KIPO, the number of patent applications for P-RAM totaled 825 during the period from 2001 to 2009.
P-RAM is non-volatile memory, like flash memory, to maintain data even if power is turned off and has a fast data processing speed like D-RAM. Thus, P-RAM is regarded as the next generation memory to replay the existing memory.
Classified by years, 4 applications were filed in 2001 but, with a steady increase, 181 applications were filed during one year of 2008.
Classified by applicants, Hynix filed the most applications (with 382), Samsung Electronics (with 311), schools and research institutes (with 60), foreign applicants (with 47) and small and medium companies and others (with 25).
Among the applicants, Samsung Electronics steadily filed the applications from the early part of 2000. This company filed 12 applications in 2002 and the most applications (with 85) in 2006 but thereafter it gradually decreased the number of the applications, whereas Hynix started filing 48 patent applications in 2004 a little later than Samsung Electronics but greatly increased the number of the applications to 130 in 2008.