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 patent and trademark systems to be changed in accordance with the effects of the Korea-US FTA
KIPO announced that the new systems in the patent and trademark fields (such as the extension of patent and trademark terms, the introduction of trademarks for sound/smell, etc.) would be introduced under the Korea-US FTA which had been ratified by the National Assembly on November 22, 2011 and which went into effect on March 15, 2012 through the implementation of the agreement between the two countries.
The changes in the patent and utility model fields are as follows:
First, a system for extending a patent term based on a delay in registration is introduced. That is, in the event that the registration of a patent is delayed because the examination process is slow, the term of the patent is extended for as long as the term is delayed.
Second, when an applicant opens her/his invention by publishing it in an academic journal, the previous system requires that (s)he shall file an application for the invention within six (6) months from the date of publishing it. However, under the new system, if the applicant files an application for the invention within twelve (12) months, the invention may be patentable.
Third, the ‘system of canceling a patent right’ is abolished. This system was to cancel a patent right for the simple reason that a patented invention is not carried out domestically for a certain period [minimum five (5) years].
The changes in the trademark related field are as follows:
First, sound, smell, etc. which cannot be seen in eyes can be registered for trademarks.
a trademark for sound: the sound effect of “Intel” or the cry of a lion of “MGM”;
a trademark for smell: the lemony scent of a “laser printer toner’
Second, a certification mark is added in the form of a trademark. The certification mark is to certify characteristics of quality, a place of origin, a manufacturing method.
3. The patent prosecution highway (PPH) between Korea and China has been open since March 1, 2012
- KIPO and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO) started operating a PPH trial program
Korea-China PPH was open on March 1, 2012.
KIPO announced that the PPH trial program between KIPO and SIPO has been in operation from March 1, 2012. Under the PPH system, when the same application is filed with KIPO and SIPO and, for example, it is earlier examined and patented in the Republic of Korea, it is promptly examined in China, using the examination results in the Republic of Korea.
At present, the patent examination processing period of SIPO is about twenty-four (24) months. However, if the same invention is decided to be patented by KIPO where a patent examination processing period is relatively much faster than that of SIPO, it is possible to greatly advance the time of obtaining a patent of the same invention in SIPO, by using the results from KIPO.
It generally takes about, on average, sixteen (16) months for KIPO to issue a first examination notification. By the way, when an application for a green technology is filed or a search for the prior art performed by a specialized agency is submitted, a preferential examination system is applied to the relevant case so as to promptly get a decision on patentability. In this case, the same case is expected to take the examination procedures at SIPO during a much shorter period.
According to KIPO, from March 1, 2012 an applicant of a patent application filed at both KIPO and SIPO may not submit a certified copy of a priority document (so that a date of filing an application can be approved retroactively).
4. The total number of applications for intellectual property rights passed 7,000,000
- The Republic of Korea achieved this number as the eighth in the world, following the US, England, Japan among others.
On December 26, 2011, the Republic of Korea passed the total number of 7,000,000 applications for intellectual property rights including patents, utility models, designs and trademarks. This happened 65 years after the first application for an intellectual property right was filed in 1946. The Republic of Korea achieved this number as the eighth in the world, following the US, England, Japan, Germany, France, Switzerland and China.
Classified by intellectual property rights, the total of 7,000,000 applications include 2,480,000 patent applications, 1,000,000 utility model applications, 1,060,000 design applications and 2,460,000 trademark applications. Based on the number of accumulated applications classified by rights, the number of trademark applications was greater than the number of patent applications until the 1990s. However, as the number of the patent applications in the IT areas increased in accordance with the popularization of mobile phones and the growth of the semiconductor industry from the later 1990s, the number of patent applications passed the number of trademark applications in the 2000s.
Upon examining the application filing trends during the last ten (10) years, the number of the applications continuously increased by 2007. However, it decreased in 2008, 2009 and 2010 due to the economic depression by the US financial crisis and it turned into an increase (expected 366,100 applications) in 2011. The number of the applications for intellectual property rights as filed during the last ten (10) years among the total period was 3,770,000, 54% of the total number of the applications, (including 1,630,000 patent applications, 310,000 utility model applications, 530,000 design applications and 1,300,000 trademark applications).
81% of the total number of the applications was filed by Korean applicants and 19% was filed by foreign applicants. Classified by intellectual property rights, Korean applicants filed 70% of the patent applications, 98% of the utility model applications, 94