1. The number of applications filed for intellectual property (IP) rights during the second quarter of 2015 increased by 9.3%, compared with the same period in 2014
- Rapid increases of 17.2% in the number of trademark applications and 14.5% in the number of PCT international applications
The total number of the IP applications filed with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) during the second quarter of 2015 was 118,347, showing a sharp increase (9.3%, 10,034 applications) in comparison with the same period in 2014.
This is the greatest increase rate among the increase rates in the number of the IP applications filed during the same periods (second quarter) over the last five (5) years.
By rights, the number of patent applications increased by 5.0 % (2,502), utility model applications by 4.0% (2,338), design applications by 3.5% (553) and trademark applications by 17.2% (6,888), compared with the same period the last year.
By applicants, 86.6% (99,762) of the total of IP applications were filed by Korean applicants and 13.4% (15,475) were filed by foreign applicants.
The number of the applications filed by the Korean applicants increased by 10.6% (9,597) while the number of the applications filed by foreign applicants decreased △1.1% (174), compared with the same period the last year.
By countries of foreign applicants, US filed with 4,858, Japan filed 4,286, China filed 1,300, Germany filed 1,163 and France filed 657.
2. A webpage for a Collaborative Search Pilot program between countries is open
According to KIPO on July 24, 2015, a webpage has been opened to introduce the collaborative search pilot program between countries (hereinafter, referred to as ‘CSP’) and to publish the procedures for the request. For English users, the English version has additionally opened.
The webpage is significant in delivering the relevant contents to people and receiving their opinions in advance before the Korea-US CSP program is operated on September 1, 2015.
The US relevant webpage opened on July 1, 2015 and it is available through the USPTO homepage, www.uspto.gov.
Two years ago, the CSP was first proposed by the Republic of Korea, to improve the patent quality throughout the world. When the same invention is filed in patent applications in two countries, the examiners of both countries share the information required for examination and rapidly perform the examination of the application over other applications.
Japan is going to operate the CSP program with US from August 1, 2015. This is influenced by KIPO to expand countries to operate this program.
3. Trade Dress strengthens a ‘functionality examination’
- KIPO prepared the guideline to be operated from August
It is difficult for a trade dress, which has a shape or color required for the function of goods, to be registered as a trademark right.
KIPO prepared a ‘functionality examination guideline of a three-dimensional trademark, etc.’ to strengthen the functional examination of a trade dress. On July 30, 2015, KIPO announced to apply this guideline to the examination from August.
Meantime, there is no precedent related to the functionality of a trade dress in Korea. Further, the detailed examination standards on functionality were incomplete. Therefore, a trademark examination was conducted, mainly focusing on determination of distinctiveness which would be a factor to distinguish one set of goods from the another set of goods.
In fact, 1,128 applications for three-dimensional trademarks were filed from 1998 when the three-dimensional trademark system was introduced to June 2015 and 263 were registered. However, the number of the cases where the three-dimensional trademarks were rejected for the reason of functional shape was only 13 over the last three (3) years including 10 in 2014.
When a trade dress is filed as a trademark application, KIPO will examine it by confirming the functionality in priority as well as the distinctiveness. Even though a trademark has no distinctiveness, if the trademark obtains distinctiveness by use, it may be registered as a trademark exceptionally. However, when the functionality predominates, the trademark cannot be registered as a trademark.
4. KIPO will prepare a joint counterstrategy for a patent dispute in the Internet of Things (IoT) field
As competition among companies is intensified to preoccupy the IoT field, KIPO plans to fully carry forward a project, ‘counterstrategy scenario for future patent disputes’, to, in advance, predict an overseas patent dispute in the IoT field and to propose a counterstrategy thereto.
This project of KIPO is prepared to support Korean companies advancing into foreign countries to preemptively counteract by predicting future patent dispute trends focused on the technical fields with good prospects that Korean companies enter overseas markets.
Through this project in the IoT field, KIPO will draw the scenario to counteract to a patent dispute which may happen in the future, by analyzing IoT standardization trends, patents, leading companies, patent management experts’ (NPE) strategies and dispute cases and by predicting future disputes, etc.
KIPO will supply the ‘counterstrategy scenario for future patent disputes’ through the IoT field to Korean IoT business groups and recommend a joint response of the relevant industry to the future patent disputes in this field.