1. New changes to the intellectual property (IP) system to newly change in 2016
The IP system changes this year are focused on: ▲ the enhancement of an applicant’s convenience and the improvement of nationwide service ▲ the strengthening of IP international competitiveness ▲ the expansion of protection, use and support of IP rights.
ㅇReturn of the fees for requesting a trial upon a reversal of a decision of rejection:
When a decision of rejection made by a trademark/design examiner is reversed at the trial stage, the total amount of the fees for requesting the trial which had been paid for the trial request shall be returned to the person/party directly concerned with the trial. (To be enforced in May, 2016)
ㅇRelaxation of requirements for restoration of a design right and reduction of the fees for requesting the restoration of a design right:
When a design right lapses because the time period for late payment or the preservation period to restore the design right passed, previously it was possible to request the restoration of a design right only for a ‘design’ which is carried out’. However, according to the revision of the Design Protection Law, it is possible to request the restoration of all design rights. (To be enforced in May, 2016)
ㅇSupport of the filing of trademark applications in foreign countries:
The KIPO homepage supports the user making it easier to find the information of English names of goods, which are approved by the multilateral treaty based on the Nice Agreement to determine the standards for the international classification of goods and services (NICE), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the group of the world’s top five trademark offices (TM5). This support is to solve the inconvenience in obtaining a trademark right which is delayed due to the names of goods. (Effective since January, 2016)
ㅇGlobal Hit 365 Project:
This is to support the establishment of IP total strategies by combining a brand, design and patent, from the step of developing a product, so that products of small and medium companies are smoothly transacted in the global market for 365 days through a year, without any IP disputes. (Effective since January, 2016)
2. The number of Korean applications for IP rights filed in 2015 is recorded as the highest number (with 480,000 applications)
According to KIPO, 475,802 applications for patent, utility model, design and trademark were filed in 2015. This number shows an increase of average 5.2% for five (5) years from 2011 to 2015 and an increase of 7.0% in comparison with the previous year.
The number of patent applications was 213,694 (with 1.6% increase compared with the previous year), the number of design applications was 67,954 (with 5.5% increase) and the number of trademark applications was 185,443 (with 15.4% increase). Utility model applications were filed at a similar level to the previous year.
Specially, the number of patent applications filed by big companies decreased by 9.2% compared with the previous year but the number of patent applications filed by small and medium companies for the first time exceeded the number of patent applications filed by big companies.
Samsung Electronics among domestic companies filed 6,721 applications, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science &Technology (KAIST) among universities filed 947 applications and the Korea Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) among public sectors filed 2,280 applications. These applicants are recorded as the first place in ranking the number of patent applications by type.
By technical fields, the most patent applications are related to the industry of manufacturing general machinery other than office supplies (13,132 applications), the industry of computer programming and information service (12,708 applications), the industry of manufacturing communication and broadcasting equipment (11,707) and the industry of manufacturing semiconductors (11,362 applications), which have been traditionally strong.
3. KIPO’s operational plan for 2016 is published
◈ To improve the quality of examination by strengthening the communication with an industrial field:
- The communication and cooperation with an industrial field and a patent customer, etc. are strengthened, and the cooperation for examination with a foreign Patent Office is expanded.
- An invalidation trial system is improved so that a decision of the Korea Intellectual Property Tribunal can be substantially used in a court.
◈ To grow an independent medium company and a small/medium company armed with IP:
- A patent plan program is introduced to support the making of an IP right of only an excellent one that is selected among the technologies developed by the governmental R&D, and an IP-R&D-related strategic support is expanded for an independent medium company and a small/medium company.
- 100 companies created based on IP (IP star company) are newly promoted.
- IP financing of 100 billion Korea Won is supported, and IP business is activated through regional patent transaction experts (17 people).
◈ To settle an IP right-related trouble of an exporting company for the Korea-China FTA:
- An IP-DESK is additionally opened (Xian in China), and the protection of a K-brand is strengthened by dealing with a foreign trademark broker, etc.
- A China group insurance is operated and a participating insurance company is expanded to carry forward a ‘three year plan for the development of IP right-related trial insurance’.
4. KIPO opens the core information related to the design examination to people
- The examination reference data collecting similar designs is provided through a ‘Designmap’.
KIPO announced to provide people with the examination reference data, which a design examiner uses upon conducting a search, through Designmap (designmap.or.kr) from January. Designmap is a design right portal site to provide the searches of Korean and foreign design publications, the design application filing strategies and the design dispute information, etc.
The examination reference data to be first opened is related to rings, chairs, lights and bottles for packaging (total 4 items) which are the articles filed in many applications. This data is the core information related to the design examination, which selectively collects the designs in similar shapes/forms among the registered Korean and foreign design publications loaded in the design search database of KIPO.
Accordingly, in the case where one design right related to a ring is found, the designs related to the ring are shown within one screen, without conducting an individual national search of the US, Japan, Europe, etc. Therefore, this is expected to be significantly helpful for applicants in searching prior designs and dealing with design infringement disputes.