1. The number of international patent and trademark applications filed by Korean applicants increased in spite of the global economic crisis
- The number of the PCT international applications increased by 8.0% and the Madrid international applications increased by 32.3% last year
Last year, the number of the international patent and trademark applications by the Korean applicants increased in spite of the global economic crisis.
According to the data compiled by the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the number of patent applications filed in foreign countries in 2011 through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) regarding an international application for a patent was 10,412 cases, showing an increase of 8.0% in comparison with 9,639 cases in 2010.
Classified by the applicants, companies or institutes filed 8,454 cases (81.2%) and individuals fled 1,958 cases (18.8%). Among the companies or institutes, LG Electronics filed the most applications (1,253 cases), followed by Samsung Electronics (752 cases) and LG Chem, Ltd. (314 cases).
The number of the international trademark applications filed through the ‘Madrid Protocol’ regarding an international application for a trademark was 536 cases, an increase of 32.3% in comparison with 405 cases in 2010. The number of the designated countries in the international trademark applications increased from 3,309 in 2010 to 3,792 in 2011, a 14.6% increase.
2. Samsung and LG are busy preparing countermeasures, such as cross license, etc., since the patent trolls have become tough opponents
The number of patent trolls has rapidly increased in the field of information technology (IT).
Korean representative companies are struggling to keep up with the preparation for countermeasures against the patent trolls. Samsung Electronics approaches this problem by relying on its IP center in charge of patent trials and strategies. Also, Samsung Electronics solves these patent issues by cross licensing.
Some Korean companies directly make an agreement or license with the patent trolls. As a typical example, Intellectual Ventures is a US representative patent troll with which Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have the license in common.
The government is moving to take action even though it is a foot-dragging approach. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Financial Services Commission announced the establishment of the ‘patent defensive funds’ at the end of last year. They plan to separately establish an asset management company specializing in patent investment under an invention capital corporation, “Intellectual Discovery”, at the beginning of this year, to collect various patent defensive funds (about 600 billion Korea Won in 2016).
3. LG has concluded an Operating System (OS) patent agreement with MS…LG will also reinforce the cooperation with Microsoft (MS) in mobile devices
Following Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics has concluded a comprehensive cooperating plan by using a type of a cross license with MS. Therefore, a Korean manufacturing company’s power is expected to be loaded in the ‘Win-tel’ camp centered on MS which expands the area to the mobile field. Pantech became known as seeking a similar cooperating plan with MS.
LG Electronics announced that they concluded the mutual patent agreement with MS and they could use the MS’ patent technology applied to the Android OS and Chrome OS platforms used in the smart pad and smart phones of LG Electronics.
The other global manufacturing companies including Samsung Electronics, HTD, etc. had concluded similar patent license agreements with MS.
Although the details of this agreement were not made public, it is assumed that there were proposed conditions where LG Electronics would pay a royalty of about $5.00 per unit, which is similar to patent use fees that Samsung Electronics and HTC pay to MS.
LG Electronics is also expected to start developing a smart pad using the ‘Windows 8’ and to start the multi OS strategies using the MS’ next generation OS. Pantech which is negotiating an royalty agreement with MS seems to be following a similar step.
4. A ‘patent management system’ is spreading to all types of business
As the importance of patent management has increased due to the intensifying competition of global patents, the construction of a patent management system is spreading to the computer business area.
According to the relevant industry, the construction of a patent management system has been expanded from parts of big companies to the small and medium companies in the fields of electricity/electronics, automobiles and chemistry.
The ‘intellectual property management system’ for the patent management is an IT infrastructure to enhance the efficiency of work related to a company’s patent and therefore it is capable of sharing and searching a massive amount of information. The cooperation process among people in charge of patents is supported by applying this system to the patent development and management in the beginning of an R&D step.
In the past, the system was introduced in the electricity/electronics and shipbuilding industries. However, unlike the past, this system is adopted to the automobile industry where the volume of trade is expected to increase due to the conclusion of the free trade agreement (FTA) last year.
The construction of this system is also carried forward in the chemical industry where the global patent competition has been intensified to secure original technology.
The electric and electronic big companies constructing the patent management system have started upgrading. Having a recent patent battle with Apple, Samsung Electronics has strengthened its system by grafting the patent management to a product developing system from the first step in the R&D.
A spokesperson of the relevant industries said that before the system was constructed, it took about 1~4 months before filing a patent application because it was difficult to cooperate between an inventor and a person in charge of a patent and to understand the progress of work. However, after completing the system, the period has been shortened to only 1~4 weeks. As a result, management costs are greatly reduced and the patent countermeasure power is increased.”