1. KIPO and MCST jointly control imitation characters
The special police squad for trademarks under the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the special judicial police for copyrights under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) shared the awareness of the importance in protecting the character industry and conducted a joint control operation to eradicate the imitation character distribution in some areas of Seoul, the Republic of Korea, including Sinchon, Daehak-ro, Dongdaemun, etc. for five days from November 21 to 25, 2015.
The joint investigation team indicted without physical detention ten people on charges of the distribution and sale of imitation products of Korean and foreign famous character goods in the aforementioned areas and confiscated about 1,800 imitation character products (corresponding to about 60,000,000 Korea Won as original market value) such as dolls and mobile phone accessories.
This joint control operation is considered as having great significance in solving the limit of the application of the Trademark Law by punishing the use of a character which is not registered as a trademark under the current Law as a violation to the Copyright Law and to serve as a momentum of arousing caution to an offender violating the Trademark Law and the Copyright Law at the same time.
2. KIPO has opened a smart trademark examination system
On December 12, 2016, KIPO opened the smart trademark examination system built to improve the accuracy and efficiency of trademark examination work.
The smart trademark examination system is characterized by providing a ‘function of checking for an error’ and a ‘function of automatically making a notice’ to reduce an examination error and to improve the quality of a notice and by greatly strengthening a ‘function of automatically classifying goods’.
The function of checking for an error provides an examiner with the result of automatically checking the items that an examiner is liable to make mistakes in a process of making the notice. This function provides the results of automatic checking of the nine items including whether to use a title that an individual applicant shall not use, whether to change the applicant information, etc.
The function of automatically making the notice is to automatically extract and describe, in the notice, the matters that an examiner records during the examination process. The eighteen items including a reason for requesting a preferential examination, whether to file a divisional application, etc. are automatically made.
The function of checking for an error and the function of automatically making the notice are expected to reduce the time required for making the notice and to decrease the errors in the notice.
3. KIPO has started a next-generation search system to improve the quality of a patent examination
On December 5, 2016 KIPO opened the next-generation search system prepared to improve the search accuracy which is most important in patent examination work.
The next-generation search system has the functions of hybrid search, multilingual integrated search and weight search.
The hybrid search is a function to provide a result of the overall judging a search conducted for an examiner by selecting a keyword and a result of a search conducted by a search system by automatically selecting a keyword. Upon using the hybrid search, it is expected to provide a search result with the accuracy improved by about 8%, compared with a search result using a simple keyword.
The multilingual integrated search has a function to search not only Korean patent documents but also English and Japanese patent documents when a user inputs a keyword in Korean. Previously, the integrated search was provided regarding Japanese patent documents. However, regarding about 16,000,000 English patent documents, an examiner had to separately conduct searches and therefore time and efforts were doubly required.
4. KIPO has expanded the opening of IP data
KIPO published a ‘plan to open IP information to the public’ with the main points of strengthening domestic and foreign IP data search service, opening data and expanding support of the relevant policy, so that anyone can more easily use the IP information in the fourth industrial revolution era when the importance of data is emphasized.
[Main points of the plan to open IP information to the public]
◈ Expansion of information provided by the search service: to expand the number of countries for the search service, to provide information as cited and not cited, and to publish originals of trademark and design administrative documents
◈ Strengthening of search service function: to build a screen for a beginner, and to improve the quality of Chinese-Korean automatic mechanical translation
◈ Opening of data and expansion support of the policy: to expand the opening of foreign IP data, to operate an IP data gift system, and to strengthen the support of a founder or startup
First of all, the search service is strengthened so that anyone can view IP information, at no cost. KIPO which had provided IP information of eighteen foreign countries including the US, through the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS) (www.kipris.or.kr) has expanded the search range to twenty-six countries by adding eight countries including Eastern European and South American countries starting December 2016, to support Korean companies in developing new markets.
Further, KIPO provides, through KIPRIS, cited/not cited information which is used as prior art in analyzing patent value or influence between patents during an examination process. In addition, the opening of the original of a major examination document applied to a patent only has been expanded to trademarks in December last year and to designs in this year, making it possible to view the details of major documents such as a notice of request for submission of argument, a notice of decision for registration, a notice of decision for rejection, etc.