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1. The Special Police Squad for Trademarks (SPST) exposed numerous violators and large quantities of counterfeit goods (News Letter No. 246)



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1. The Special Police Squad for Trademarks (SPST) exposed numerous violators and large quantities of counterfeit goods

- SPST announced the results of controlling counterfeit goods during the first half of 2012

SPST under the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that it strengthened the control of distribution of domestic counterfeit goods in the first half of this year, charging a total of 159 people engaging in criminal counterfeit goods activities and confiscating about 77,726 counterfeit goods (corresponding to about 8.4 billion Korea Won as the value of real goods).

Classified by the types of exposed crimes, 90 people were related to wholesale and retail sale activities, 44 people were related to online sale activities, 7 people were related to manufacturing activities and 18 people were related to distribution activities.

The results of analyzing the confiscated counterfeit goods are as follows:

- Classified by exposed items, 42,534 counterfeit goods were shoes, 19,870 counterfeit goods were clothing, 5,189 counterfeit goods were bags, 4,203 counterfeit goods were accessories, etc.
- Classified by brands, 38,633 counterfeit goods were related to New Balance, 15,085 counterfeit goods were related to MLB, 3,919 counterfeit goods were related to Louis Vuitton, 3,378 counterfeit goods were related to Chanel, 2,193 counterfeit goods were related to TOMS, etc.
- What is peculiar is that the objects of counterfeit are not only high-priced brand-name bags and expand to famous sport shoes or caps which are favorite with youths and even medicines and medical supplies, such as Viagra, an erectile-dysfunction drug. That is, the items of counterfeit goods distributed in markets have become more diverse.

2. KIPO will carry forward a revision of the Korea Trademark Act to protect small merchants from the abuses of trademark rights

- Pre-announcement of legislation of a revised bill of the Trademark Act to establish the fair use order of trademarks

KIPO carries forward a revision to the Trademark Act in order to establish the fair use order of a trademark, by protecting small merchants operating restaurants, beauty salons, etc. so as not to be engaged in a trademark infringement dispute by a trademark broker who abuses the trademark system, and by restricting an act of using a trade name with an unlawful purpose of riding on the credit of the business of an owner of a just trademark after it is registered.

As well, KIPO carries forward a revision to the Trademark Act by improving the trial system to cancel an unused trademark to shorten the period for an applicant of a trademark application to obtain a trademark right, and by newly establishing a request for continuing procedures to make it possible to remedy a right when an applicant of a trademark application fails to meet a time limit of submitting an argument.

Meanwhile, disputes often occurred by the act of abusing trademark rights of so-called trademark brokers against small merchants. That is, the trademark brokers registered ex post facto trademarks similar to the names of small restaurants, etc. run by the small merchants in small towns. Then, the brokers sent warning notices that the small merchants infringed their trademarks, to induce settlement money. As a result, in many cases, the small merchants lacking legal knowledge were damaged and therefore an improvement of the system was demanded.

According to the revised bill to the Trademark Act, the order of registration or use of a trade name and a trademark are considered. If a trade name is earlier used, the trade name is allowed to be continuously used. However, if a trade name copying a registered trademark is for the first time used after the trademark is registered, the trade name is allowed to continue using only unless it rides on the credit of the business of the owner of the trademark right. Thus, the revised bill includes revisions for the harmonious balance of a trademark right and a trade name.

3. Filing patent applications for the social network service (SNS) technology is vigorous

As the SNS through mobile devices has been active, the number of patent applications relating to the SNS technology and business model is increasing. The startup-focusing SNS technology patents are getting attention in the patent market which has centered around the manufacturing industrial technology patents.

Since the SNS-related patents are based on services not manufacturing techniques, the differences are shown in the patent field. The design/user interface (UI)-related patent applications are of great importance.

The SNS-related patents are different in respect to the object of filing the patent applications. As most of the SNS developing companies are startups, in many cases they file the applications for investment rather than for the exercise of rights. The representative of Seoul Angels said, “a startup patent is a basic spec from the point of view of an Angels investor. Unless a company owns one or two patents, it is excluded from being a target for investment.”

4. The listed companies of the Korea Securities Dealers Automated Quotation (KOSDAQ) increased the obtaining of patents by 50%

The number of patents obtained by the listed companies of KOSDAQ in the first half of this year increased by nearly half, compared to the last year.

According to the Korea Exchange, the declared number of the patents obtained by the listed corporations in the KOSDAQ market was 464, with an increase of 47.3% in comparison with 315 for the same period of last year.

The number of the declared corporations that obtained the patents increased from 114 for the same period of last year to 141, by 23.68%. The declared average number of the patent(s) obtained per company was 0.47 with an increase of 0.15.

By industrial classification, semiconductors were the most patents (103 cases), followed by IT parts (63 cases) and software (61). The importance of obtaining patents in the semiconductor industry was 22.2%, an increase of 7,91% in comparison to the same period of last year.


1. The number of Korean patent applications through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is 5th in the world rankings, with a rate of 5.7% (News Letter No. 247)


1. The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) will be at the forefront of eradicating fake characters. (News Letter No. 245)