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After a 26-year hiatus, the Korean Trademark Law will drastically change in accordance with the international tendency(News Letter No. 332)

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KH

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2016-03-16

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1. After a 26-year hiatus, the Korean Trademark Law will drastically change in accordance with the international tendency

- It will become easier to cancel a trademark right which is only registered but not used.

A general revision to the Trademark Law, which the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) prepared by collecting the opinions from all walks of life over the last 3 years, has been published. The revised Trademark Law will be enforced from September 1, 2016 after 6 months passes from the date of promulgating the revision.

The general revision to the Trademark Law is focused on the improvement in the convenience of an applicant and the global harmonization of the Trademark Law, by ① concisely maintaining the definition of a trademark to meet with the international trend, ② expanding the range of a claimant/plaintiff such that anyone can request a trial to cancel the registration of a trademark which is not used, and ③ changing the viewpoint of determining whether it is similar to an earlier filed and registered trademark to the viewpoint of deciding whether to register a trademark.

The term, ‘an interested party’ only can request a trial for canceling a registration of a trademark which is not used is expanded to ‘anyone’. When a decision of the trial for canceling the trademark registration is made, the trademark right is allowed to lapse retroactive to the date of requesting the trial, thereby solving the problem in that another’s choice of a trademark and a company’s business activity are limited due to the trademark which is registered only but not used substantially.


2. Control of the imitations of the Korean Wave brands will be strengthened by the cooperation of KIPO-Korea Customs Service (KSC)

- A 2016 policy council was held to prevent counterfeits from spreading in foreign countries.

KIPO and KSC announced that the control of products infringing the Korean Wave brands drastically increased as the result of cooperating with foreign Customs last year, to protect the Korea wave brands.

The result of controlling the counterfeits of the Korean Wave brands with the Hong Kong Customs in 2015 reached US$1,440,000 (corresponding to about 1.7 billion Korea Won) showing an increase of more than 10 times compared with the previous year. The Thailand Customs also controlled the counterfeits of Korean companies’ cosmetic products corresponding to one hundred million Korea Won.

The result that the Hong Kong Customs controlled the counterfeits of the Korean brands was US$105,247 in 2014 but US$1,441,207 in 2015.

KIPO and KCS decided to share the infringement information with foreign Customs through a regular cooperative exchange, to expand an opportunity to provide control officials with information on how to identify counterfeits of the Korean Wave brands which are usually distributed on-site, and to strengthen the exchange with Korean companies by inviting the control officials of the foreign Customs.


3. A Korean patent information system will be exported to the Middle East for the first time

- KIPO made a contract of US$4.5 million with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Mr. Donggyu Choi, the Commissioner of KIPO and Mr. Al Shehhi, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy of UAE signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a mutual business agreement in the Seoul office of KIPO on February 25, 2016. The business agreement was made to first export the Korean patent information system at around US$4.5 million (about 5.5 billion Korea Won) to the UAE government.

Through the MOU, the two countries will support the construction of a UAE system based on the Korean experiences of developing and operating the patent system, cooperate in the intellectual property educational field, and cooperate in consulting for the organization to expand the UAE patent department.

The patent information system to be exported to the UAE government for the first time is to construct the system which processes, on-line, the entire processes of UAE patent administration (that is, a patent/design application filing, examination, registration, official fee payment, etc.). A consortium of the Korea Institute of Patent Information under KIPO performs this project from March to the end of this year.

The Korea patent system has been provided support to Mongolia, Azerbaijan and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) in the form of official development assistance (ODA). However, this is a first export form that a country government bears the total cost of building the system.


4. Trends of drone-related patent applications

- The number of drone-related patent applications shows a rapid increase of 161% compared to the previous year.

According to KIPO, a total of 389 drone-related patent applications were filed in 2015, showing a rapid increase as much as 161%, compared to the previous year. The number of drone-related patent applications was just about 30 per year before 2012 but recently rapidly increased to 126 in 2013, 149 in 2014 and 389 in 2015.

Major applicants are the research institutes including Korea Aerospace Research Institute, Agency for Defense Development, etc. and a number of Korean small and medium venture companies, leading in securing patent rights.

Detailed technical fields of the relevant patent applications are various. The most patent applications are filed in the air vehicle and its operation technique field. One of the patents registered last year is related to a fire-fighting drone which extinguishes a fire while moving on the ground and squelches a fire while flying if needed. Another patent is related to a drone with a device for dropping survival equipment to be used for saving a life upon water disaster accident.

Further, the number of patent applications related to the taking off and landing technology which is capable of automatically taking off and landing a drone and charging it has increased. As a case of the patented taking off and landing technology, patented technology is related to a mobile vehicle, etc., such that multi-copters automatically land to be charged.  

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KIPO has improved the trademark examination system for the convenience of an applicant (News Letter No. 331)