1. More than one (1) year will be saved in processing an international patent between the Republic of Korea and Japan
- Korea and Japan agreed to operate an international PCT-PPH (patent cooperation treaty-patent prosecution highway)
In the Commissioner’s Meeting of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) which was held on June 4, 2012 in Corsica Island, France, KIPO signed the MOU (memorandum of understanding) to start the PCT-PPH from July 1, 2012.
When an international patent application is filed with both KIPO and JPO and it is decided as being patentable by either Office, the PCT-PPH expands the chance for a preferential examination to the international PCT application.
As this system is operated, the period of processing a patent examination between Korea and Japan is expected to be shortened up to one or more years, so that the time required for processing the patent application will be remarkably reduced.
The Commissioner of KIPO said that, “[T]aking the operation of the Korea-Japan PCAT-PPH as an opportunity, the PPH and PCT-PPH systems are now completed with three countries, US, China and Japan, which have about 80% of the total number of foreign applications filed by Korean companies”. He also added that he would expand cooperation with many more countries so as to support Korean companies and applicants in fast obtaining foreign patents in the future.
2. The number of trademark applications to which entertainers’ names are used is rapidly increasing
According to KIPO, the number of applications for trademarks for products or business combined with entertainers’ names was only a total of 27 from 1998 to 2008. However, it increased to 11 in 2009, 14 in 2010, 22 in 2011 with an increase of 157% compared with the previous year, and 12 as of the end of May, 2012. This increase is expected to continue.
Classified by businesses, 41 applications (48%) are for agricultural and marine products related to foods and the processed foods thereof; 25 applications (29%) are for restaurant businesses as service businesses to provide beverages and foods thereof; 5 applications are for the dotcom and shopping malls to which entertainers’ names are used; 4 applications are for cosmetics; and 11 applications are for the other goods or services.
A spokesperson of KIPO said, “[I]n the future, the number of trademark applications is expected to steadily increase in line with the launch of products with brands using the names of entertainers who give intimate images to consumers. In addition, when an application for a trademark including the name of a famous entertainer is filed in his/her name or by a person having the permission from the entertainer, the registration of the trademark is possible.”
3. Character craze for a smartphone case
The number of design applications for smartphone cases which combine animal character designs to reflect the various preferences of consumers is greatly increasing.
According to KIPO, the design applications for smartphone cases are taking a major step toward the direction of reflecting the consumers’ various tastes. Conventionally, the design applications for smartphone cases were functional to prevent an impact and to improve an appearance of the case.
A year-on-year status of the design applications related to the ‘smartphone cases combining animal character designs’ is as follows: 5 applications were filed in 2010; 100 applications were filed in 2011 and 29 applications were filed as of the end of May, 2012, totaling 134 applications for the last three (3) years, reflecting a rapid increase. Classified by applicants, 112 applications (83.6% of the total of these design applications) were filed by individual applicants, greatly surpassing the 22 plus applications (16.4%) filed by cooperation applicants.
KIPO considered the big increase in the number of the design applications for the smartphone cases combining animal character designs as relating to the spread of the emotional consumption culture where smartphones are recognized as parts of fashions or accessories in daily necessity.
4. The number of patent applications for the high-definition input image converting technology is continuing to increase
The high-definition image processing technology is to convert (brightness and color compensation, expansion, restoration, etc.) so that an image is easily identified according to human visual characteristics. This technology is used in many fields, such as digital cameras, TVs, smartphones, medical diagnosis systems, etc.
According to KIPO, the number of the applications for the high-definition image processing technology to reproduce natural colors somewhat decreased with 2007 being the peak but a stable number of the applications has been maintained. Regarding the input image converting technology among the high-definition image processing technology, the number of the applications filed by Korean applicants has been increasing in comparison with the number of the applicants filed by foreign applicants.
The trend of the applications by technical fields is as follows: A total of 1,016 applications related to the image processing technology were filed during the last five (5) years. Among these applications, 702 applications (69%) were related to the technology for improving the image quality, such as brightness, color compensation, etc. 314 applications (31%) are related to the input image converting technology for properly expressing color changes of an input image through gradation or resolution conversion, etc.
The input image converting technology is only 31% in the image processing technology. However, considering that Korean companies have a prominent international competition and the relevant technology is widely used in diverse fields, such as digital cameras, TVs, smartphones, medical diagnosis systems, etc., the number of the applications for the input image converting technology by Korean applicants is expected to continuously increase.