1. Companies’ intellectual property (IP) activities are reinforced more than 2014
The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the Trade Committee (Chairman: Soon-Jick HONG) under the Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy announced the results of ‘research on the actual condition of IP activities in 2014’ which they had jointly conducted by requesting the Korea Institute of Intellectual Property to provide such information.
The percentage of companies having an organization in charge of IP increased from 59.0% in 2013 to 69.3% in 2014, showing a sharp increase (+10.3%p) in comparison with the previous year.
The activities in an IP creating step, such as a company’s holding and using compensation standards for an employee’s invention, a prior patent (art) search, etc., have been also reinforced. The number of the companies holding and using the compensation standards for an employee’s invention increased from 35.1% in 2013 to 41.7% in 2014, showing an increase of 6.6%p.
The activities to protect companies’ IP abroad, such as the companies’ activities of filing IP applications (including PCT applications) and registering IP rights in foreign countries, have increased. The number of the companies filing applications including PCT application in foreign countries increased from 16.6% in 2012 to 17.2% in 2014, showing an increase of 0.6%p. The number of companies responding that they registered their IP rights in foreign countries also increased from 6.3% in 2013 to 9.1% in 2014, with an increase of 2.8%p.
2. KIPO strengthens prior art searches to create strong patents
- To improve the quality of examination, the search system for examiners is fully open to external agencies to search prior art.
To improve the quality of examination, KIPO decided to fully provide the patent search system for KIPO examiners, which was restrictively provided, to an agency to search prior art from January, so that the KIPO examiners and the external researchers of the prior art are able to perform a prior art search by using the same searching environments.
Meantime, KIPO entrusted the external agencies to perform some prior art searches for examination, to shorten the examination processing period and to improve the quality of examination.
However, since there were differences in the functions and data ranges provided by the KIPO’s search system and the prior art search agencies’ search systems, it really needed to provide the same search environments. To solve this problem, KIPO highly developed a search system by expanding a computational resource and introducing an updated search engine, thereby preparing the environments that the agencies which search the prior art can reliably use the same search system with the KIPO examiners.
Accordingly, the expedited and accurate examination work is possible in the examination stage, to shorten the examination processing period. Further, a strong patent is expected to be created so that the scope of a registered right shall not easily invalidated.
3. TM5 ID List search tool is open
A TM5 ID List search tool has been open since January 27, 2015, so that users are able to fast and efficiently search the TM5 ID List (ID database shared by TM5 organization).
The TM5 ID List puts together about 14,000 pre-approved IDs (descriptions of goods or services directed in trademark applications). Since the IDs that an applicant is able to search in the TM5 ID List are predicted as being all approved in the TM5 countries, the predictability and consistency of a decision on registration and a legal certainty in the Patent Offices of the TM5 countries are expected to increase.
The purpose of the search tool is to support the users to more widely use the common IDs integrated in the TM5 ID List. The maximum use of the TM5 ID List is sought by providing user access convenience to a dedicated search tool. At present, the official list is provided in English but an effort is in process to expand the translation into the official languages of the TM5 countries (Chinese, Japanese, Korean and 23 European official languages.
The TM5 website is http://www.tmfive.org/main.php and the TM5 ID List search tool is http://oami.europa.eu/ec2/tm5.
4. Korean battery industry leads a global patent competitiveness
Korean battery industry gets the lead in the global patent competitiveness with an unrivaled global battery market share.
According to an SNE research which is a market research company, the number of patents owned by Korean companies in the market of a battery system for an electric car is 1039, a 2nd place following US companies owning 1,482 patents. Japanese companies own 989 patents and European companies own 560 patents. The battery system-related patents have 6 technological fields including the battery management system (BMS) for electric cars, the capacity and heat controlling technology, etc. This is the first time for the relevant Korean companies to have made pretty good showings in the US and Europe having the biggest electric car markets and to catch up the number of patents owned by Japanese companies which is the strong team in the battery industry.
LG Chem as a single company has the most patents (443 cases) in the US and Europe and Samsung SDI holds a second place with 271 cases. Specially, if the number of patents owned by SB LiMotive that Samsung SDI took over is added, it reaches about 400 cases. After all, LG Chem and Samsung SDI hold more than 70% of the US and European patents.
Last year, while the global electric car battery market grew in the scale of about 7000MWh, LG Chem and Samsung SDI achieved 1st and 2nd places, respectively, holding a market share of 42%.