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The number of Korean patent and trademark applications increased in spite of the worldwide economic downturn (News Letter No. 233)



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1. The number of Korean patent and trademark applications increased in spite of the worldwide economic downturn

- The number of patent and trademark applications increased by 5.6% and 14.3%, respectively

The number of Korean applications for intellectual property rights, namely patent and trademark applications, which had decreased in 2008 and 2009 due to the economic depression caused by the US financial crisis, increased in 2011 following 2010.

As a result of a provisional analysis by the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the number of the applications for intellectual property rights filed with KIPO totaled 372,121 cases, showing an increase of 6.3% in comparison with 349,273 cases in 2010.

Classified by property rights, the number of the patent applications was 179,687 with a 5.6% increase in comparison with the number of the patent applications filed in 2010 and the number of the trademark applications was 124,000 with a 14.3% increase.

Classified by applicants, big companies filed the most applications with 26.4% (47.409 cases), followed by individuals with 23.6% (42,500 cases), foreign corporations with 22.5% (40,452 cases) and small and medium companies with 15% (26,983 cases)

Especially, the number of the patent applications filed by big companies continued increased for the last two (2) years, whereas the number of the patent applications filed by small and medium companies decreased by 17.1%. So, small and medium companies are considered being more sensitive to economic conditions.

The company which filed the most patent applications is Samsung Electronics (5,588 cases), followed by LG Electronics (3,096 cases) and Hyundai Motor (2,740 cases). As for foreign companies, Qualcomm filed the most patent applications (1,351 cases), followed by Sony (517 cases) and Tokyo Electron (437 cases). Classed by countries, Japan filed the applications (15,556 case), followed by US (12,252 cases), Germany (3,647 cases) and France (1,776 cases).

2. The number of the patent applications for the environment-friendly air conditioning and heating technology rapidly increased

- KIPO supports the applications for the green energy technology by a super high speed examination

According to KIPO, the annual number of the patent applications for the environment-friendly systems for supplying hot water, air cooling and heating increased from 15 cases in 2000 to 127 cases in 2010, by about eight (8) times or more during the ten (10) years.

Classified by techniques, the percentage of the applications for using underground water (geothermal heat) was 32%, that for systems using solar heat was 20%, that for systems using aerothermal heat was 17%, that for systems using river water or sea water was 17%, and that for systems using the other sources was 14%.

Upon collecting and distributing heat from the heat energy which is present in the natural world, (i.e., heat being present in air, the ground or in underground water) by using a heat transferring machine, or a “heat pump system”, supplying hot water and air conditioning and heating are possible without using fire, thereby controlling the generation of carbon dioxide which is a leading part of global warming.

Furthermore, it is possible to reduce energy by 20%~50% or more in comparison with a system for supplying hot water or air conditioning and heating by using electricity or gas. So, these techniques have been in the spotlight as the next generation systems or supplying hot water, and air conditioning and heating.

KIPO has operated the “super high speed examination system” prepared as a systematic support measure so that these applications may be patented earlier and thus made readily available. In addition, when a patent application related to the environment-friendly air conditioning and heating is approved as an application related to green technology, it can be earlier registered or patented through the examination.

3. KIPO expands a program to support the creation of standard establishing patents by industry-university-institute

- KIPO held a presentation of a program to support the creation of standard establishing patents in 2012

To support the creation of standard establishing patents by Korean industry-university-institute, KIPO expands four (4) tasks and supports a total of 25 governmental and private R&D tasks in 2012.

A standard establishing patent means a high value-added patent which utilizes both market dominating power, which is a merit of standardization, and monopoly power of a patent. A standard establishing patent has been raised as a core/essential issue in patent disputes of the Korean major industries including smart phones and semiconductors, as in the trial of Apple and Samsung.

However, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and ETRI have 96.1% of the total international standard establishing patents owned by the Republic of Korea, whereas most industries-universities-institutes have only 3.9%. Thus, it is urgent to support the industries-universities-institutes to improve the capability of creating their standard establishing patents.

KIPO’s program to support the creation of standard establishing patents operates the support throughout the entire steps from a R&D step to a post standard establishment, so that the industries-universities-institutes can create high value-added standard establishing patents.

4. The washing machine DD technology of LG Electronics has been approved in the Supreme Court

LG Electronics finally won in the patent trial related to the ‘Direct Drive (DD)’ method in a washing machine between LG Electronics and Daewoo Electronics, which continued for seven (7) years.

LG Electronics announced that the Supreme Court finally approved the validation of their patent on January 19, 2012.

Considering that “the present patent technology had an inventive step(s) which is difficult to be easily conceived from the conventional prior art”, the plenum of the Supreme Court disaffirmed the decision of the second trial announcing the invalidation of the patent and returned the case to the High Court.

The DD method directly connects a motor to spin a laundry drum to the laundry drum. Thus, the DD method is a technology to strengthen the machine’s washing power, reduce energy and enable low-noise by a precise motor control.

In December, 2006, this patent trial started when LG Electronics brought a trial to inhibit the infringement of its patented technology related to the DD method in a washing machine against Daewoo Electronics.

The judge of the first trial decided that Daewoo Electronics infringed the patent and they should pay 1.8 billion Korea Won to LG Electronics. In 2010, the second trial by Seoul High Court considered that the washing machine related technology of LG Electronics did not have the ‘inventive step(s) as the indispensable requisites and decided that Daewoo Electronics did not infringe the patent of LG Electronics. The Supreme Court approved the inventive step(s) of the technology of LG Electronics and reversed the decision of the High Court. As the Supreme Court annulled the original decision, a result of the trial as returned will be expected in the first half of this year.

A spokesperson of LG Electronics said, “The Supreme Court’s decision that the patent is valid proves again the excellence and creativity of the ‘direct drive’ technology. LG Electronics will strongly take action to protect the core patent technologies in the future.”  


The number of international patent and trademark applications filed by Korean applicants increased in spite of the global economic crisis (News Letter No. 234)


Obtaining a patent among Korea-China-Japan becomes easy (News Letter No. 232)