1. 2012 business achievements of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO)
KIPO shortened the patent examination processing period to 14.8 months. The annual average examination processing period was shortened to 14.8 months in patent/utility model applications and 9 months in trademark/design applications.
These annual average examination processing periods were shortened by 2 months and 1 month, respectively, in comparison with those in 2011. This is to enable technologies/brands developed by companies to more rapidly obtain rights.
KIPO has also built a basis to support the enhancement of intellectual property competitiveness of Korean companies in the international society, by further strengthening intellectual property global cooperation.
In addition, KIPO intensified the cooperation among the Patent Offices of the five advanced countries in the world intellectual property (the Republic of Korea, US, Japan, Europe and China) and positively carried forward a bilateral cooperation with a major country, to substantially improve the conveniences of Korean companies’ foreign patent activities.
Especially, in 2012 KIPO built a trade mark five (TM5) cooperative system formed of the advanced five powerful countries in trademarks (the Republic of Korea, US, Japan, Europe and China) and attracted an annual conference for 2013 to the Republic of Korea, so that the Republic of Korea gets to play a leading role in the discussion of the international trademark system.
2. Burden of IP-related official fees becomes lighter and payment thereof becomes convenient
- Application filing fees and registration fees for medium-sized companies are discounted by 30%, effective from January 2013
Starting January 1, 2013, KIPO has introduced a discount system for the IP-related official fees for medium-sized companies to relieve their financial burdens and it also expanded the payment means of the IP-related official fees to make it more convenient for clients to pay.
In order to participate in a pan-governmental effort to encourage the innovations in techniques and the intellectual property creation of medium-sized companies and to develop medium-sized companies, KIPO applies a 30% discount to the fees of filing an application for a patent/utility model/design, the fees of requesting an examination, and the registration fees for the first three years for medium-sized companies. Accordingly, medium-sized companies’ burdens for these fees are expected to be reduced.
KIPO is operating an and as parts of the diversification of payment means for the IP-related fees.
3. The number of IP groups/departments/teams held by companies has greatly increased
The Korea Institute of Intellectual Property (a supervision research institute) and the Korea Data Network (a survey agency) conducted an “actual condition survey of intellectual property activities by companies, universities and public research institutes” for 2012, at the request of KIPO, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Korea Trade Commission. According to the survey, a rate of IP groups held by companies has increased and the number of companies filing patent applications in foreign countries has increased.
The rate of IP groups held by companies sharply increased from 38.6% in 2011 to 55.4% in 2012. As the international patent infringement trials have been intensified, companies’ realization of the importance of IP has spread and therefore the number of IP groups has increased.
Among companies, the rate of the companies filing patent applications in foreign countries (including PCT applications) increased from 21.1% to 22.7%. The rate of universities and public research institutes filing patent applications in foreign countries increased from 44.9% to 48.3%. These are considered as the results showing that the efforts to secure IP rights in foreign countries have increased as the need for the protection of IP rights in foreign countries has grown,
4. A trend of patent applications related to a LED (light emitting diode) lighting circuit technology
According to KIPO, the number of applications related to a lighting circuit technology using a high-efficiency LED light source, which were filed from 2008 to the first half of 2012, totaled 1,594, showing an increase every year but a slight decrease with 2010 as the peak.
Upon classifying the applications filed from 2008 by applicants, the top applicants filing the most applications are the LCD TV manufacturing-related companies including Samsung, LG, etc. and the traditional lighting-related companies including Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V., Osram AG, Kumho Electric, Inc., etc. The filing of the applications was not held to a few Korean big companies or global companies with 80% of the applications being filed by medium and small companies. Therefore, the growth of medium and small companies is expected.
Specifically, in the LED lighting circuit technology field where medium and small companies filed many applications, the rate of preferential examination is high, being about 20% every year. The reasons why the rate is high are that, the requirements of an application for the preferential examination are greatly relaxed, making it possible to easily use the preferential the examination; a patent is included as one of the requirements for technical certification to be designated as excellent supply goods; and the need to obtain earlier patent protection is increased in order to preoccupy the market.