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Abuse of an IT patent right will be prevented (News Letter No.200)



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1. Abuse of an IT patent right will be prevented

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has started investigating the actual conditions of the patent right abuse in the IT field. Through this investigation, FTC plans to restrict an act of abusing a patent right of an IT company, such as a multinational company and the like.

FTC announced that on August 6, 2010 they had sent documents regarding the investigation of the actual conditions of the patent right abuse to 59 companies in the IT field, including 19 multinational companies and 40 Korean companies.

This investigation (as a first large-scale compulsory investigation of the patent right abuse in the IT field) is a measure according to an increase in the number of patent dispute cases and an increase in the number of cases unfairly using a patent right for a monopoly.

FTC selected the companies having a number of core patents in the IT industrial field (such as semiconductors, computers, periphery devices and the like) and the companies experiencing patent disputes with Korean medium and small companies as the subjects of this investigation.

The investigation is to understand the current status of a patent dispute and license agreement and to study the feasibility/validity of specific transaction conditions and terms. Through this investigation, FTC will uncover any violations of the law (such as clauses regarding an unfair license contract) and analyze the reasonable trading practice required for the proper use of a patent right.

The acts of abusing a patent right to be investigated are as follows: △ an act of allowing a use of a patented technology and selling a product unrelated to the patented technology, together; △ an act of delaying the market entry of a competitor by a groundless patent trial; and △ an act of setting royalties of a patented technology so as to be unreasonably high or charging the different royalties.

FTC will operate the first documentary investigation regarding a Korean businessman by September 17, 2010 and regarding a foreign businessman by September 30, 2010. If anything suspicious of violating the relevant law is caught as a result of the investigation, FTC will operate an further investigation. If an act of violating the relevant law is recognized, FTC will take corrective measures. “Since the IT field’s dependency on technology is high, patent strategies influence the rise and fall of a company. So, the concern about patent right abuse is high in the IT field compared with the other industrial fields. …. This investigation is a message that the Korean FTC fully investigates global companies’ acts of abusing a patent right,” said Joon-beom KIM, a manager of the market monitoring department of FTC.

2. The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO, Commissioner: Soo-won LEE) will reduce the fees for filing a patent application by a local government by 50%

When a patent/utility model application is filed as a paper document, the fees of attached document are reduced and the fees for filing a patent application by a local government will be greatly reduced from September 28, 2010. In addition, some official fees, such as the fees for filing an opposition of a trademark/design, will be adjusted.

KIPO announced that the official fee system would be reformed to improve the payment convenience of a patent client, to adjust the patent official fees at a reasonable level, and to support high quality examination/trial.

KIPO revised the additional fee system where a patent/utility model application is filed as a paper document. Before the additional fee system is revised, a fee is charged from the first page of an attached document. However, after the additional fee system is changed, the fee is revised where the total of the attached document pages is in excess of 21 pages.

KIPO also applies a 50% reduction to the fees of a patent/utility model/design application by a local government and the beginning registration fees thereof. This is to reduce the burden of the official fees to be paid by a local government, thereby contributing to the strengthening of competitiveness of a local society.

Further, some official fees (such as the fees for filing a trademark/design opposition and the fees for requesting a correction, among the others), which have been lower than the original fees and the relevant fees of major foreign patent offices, are adjusted for high quality examination/trial.

In addition, the trademark registration fees can be paid every five years for two payments. When an application for renewing a trademark right is filed, the trademark right is renewed by payment of the trademark registration fees, without any procedures of additionally paying the fees for filing the application. The payment procedures are thus simplified.

3. KIPO had a “Korean student’s invention exhibition” on September 13-22, 2010

On September 12, 2010, KIPO announced that they would have the ‘23rd Korean student’s invention exhibition in the Gwacheon National Science Museum. This exhibition shows 212 prize-winning works passing the documentary examination and first and second examinations, such as “Magic holder without any more worry about slide upon slope parking!” (Soo-wan Noh of Daejeon Tanbang Middle School: given a prize by the President) and “Smart bookcase (Yu-jin KIM of Daegu Hwanam Elementary School: given a prize by the Prime Minister, among the others.

7,248 works from the whole country were submitted for this year’s exhibition.

In addition, the programs for the students and parents attending the exhibition were prepared, such as ‘open classroom for invention’, ‘course for school parents’, ‘outdoor experience booth’, ‘contest for drawing an invention idea’, and ‘teacher’s invention exhibition’, among the others.

“This is one place that the invention kings dreaming the future from the whole country meet together … Specifically, this year, we would make an opportunity that the prize-winning students can directly explain their own works,” a spokesperson of KIPO said.  


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