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Current state of intellectual property (IP) right registration in 2016 (News Letter No. 359)



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1. Current state of intellectual property (IP) right registration in 2016

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced that the number of IP rights including patents, utility models, designs and trademarks, etc. registered in 2016 totaled 286,589. This number shows an increase of 4.4% compared with the previous year.

The registration number of IP rights was 108,876 for patents (6.9% increase compared with the previous year), 55,603 for designs (1.9% increase), 119,256 for trademarks (3.9% increase) and 2,854 for utility models (12.3% decrease).

The total number of existing IP rights passed 2,000,000 at the end of 2013 was 2,431,923 (provisional) at the end of 2016 with an increase of 7.4% compared with the previous year. The number of each of the existing patent, design and trademark rights was 956,742 (6.2% increase), 341,463 (9.4% increase) and 1,099,971 (8.4% incrase).

As the importance and use of IP rights have increased, the total number of transfer of IP rights was 50,139 with an increase of 17.4% compared with the previous year, showing a growing trend every year. The number of transfer of patent transfer cases was 30,404 (30.9% increase) and the number of design transfer cases was 4,135 (21.7% increase) and the number of utility model and trademark transfer cases decreased.

2. KIPO and the Office of Customs Administration (OCA) held a 2017 policy council to strengthen border measures concerning the counterfeit products

KIPO and OCA held a “2017 KIPO-OCA policy council” in the Daejeon Government Complex at 10:00 am on April 6, 2017, to check the results of carrying forward the mutual cooperation to protect the Hallyu (the Korean wave) brands in 2016 and to discuss the cooperative plans for 2017.

In 2016, these two organizations made efforts to strengthen the cooperative relations with foreign customs, to build the joint response systems with companies facing IP disputes in customs processes, and to improve the understanding of the Hallyu brand protection through an education to identify a counterfeit product and an invitational workshop for local customs officials.

As a result, the number of IP rights that Korean companies registered as new with the Chinese customs in 2016 was 192, remarkably increased by about 5 times compared with 39 in 2014. These are expected to be helpful in controlling IP rights when a counterfeit product of a Korean company enters the Chinese customs in the future.

The state of new IP rights registered with the Chinese customs was 39 in 2014, 112 in 2015 and 192 in 2016.

Through this council, the both organizations of KIPO and OCA will do their best to improve the effectiveness of controlling counterfeit products, by sharing the infringement information through regular exchange and cooperation with foreign customs and by providing the counterfeit control officials with the information to identify counterfeit products to Hallyu brand products, which have been usually distributed locally, and the information of current conditions of Korean companies’ IP rights.

3. A patent trial system related to the approval of medicine and medical supplies is safely settled

- Selection of time to request a trial requires careful caution.

As two years has passed since the patent linkage system of the approval of medicine and medical supplies was in effect, the number of patent trials which were filed without complete legal analysis hoping to obtain the sales advantage (a “me too” response) drastically decreased, so the relevant system is OK. However, since there is still a problem of too early requesting a trail, more careful trial strategies are needed before requesting a trial.

According to the Korea Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board (KIPTAB), the number of trials requested in 2015 which was the early stage of introducing the system reached 1,957 but it stabilized at about 300 yearly since 2016.

The state of the trial requests relating to the patent linkage system of the approval of medicine and medical supplies was 1,957 in 2015, 311 in 2016 and 154 as of March 2017.

Under the revision of the pharmaceutical law made in 2015, the pharmaceutical company which first invalidate a patent of medicine and medical supplies was given a priority sales right of up to nine months. To preoccupy the prior sales right, many pharmaceutical companies requested trials in the “me too” manner, without any careful review. However, 703 (36%) of 1,957 cases were withdrawn, resulting in a waste of time and cost in these trial requests.

However, starting 2016, the number of trial request cases sharply dropped to 311 and stabilized and the number of trial withdrawal cases also decreased to 13, so that the pharmaceutical companies seem to be more selective in requesting trials.

4. A current state of patent applications related to mobile payment

- The relevant technical development and the filing of international patent applications are active.

According to KIPO, the number of publications of PCT international patent applications regarding the mobile payment technology was only 16 in 2007 but steadily increased from 28 in 2008 to 119 in 2016.

Major applicants are Visa card (41 applications, 7.2%) and Master card (36, 6.3%) which are credit card companies, followed by ZTE (21, 3.7%), Ali Baba (19, 3.3%), Zhou (14, 2.4%), eBay (11, 1.9%), Apple (9, 1.6%), Google (9, 1.6%), Samsung (8, 1.4%), etc. The existing electronic commerce companies and mobile manufacturing companies filed many applications.

Based on the countries of the applicants, the USA has a dominant position with 248 applications (43.4%), followed by China with 125 (21.9%), the Republic of Korea with 51 (8.9%), GB with 18 (3.1%) and Germany with 12 (2.1%)

The published major technology includes the near field communication (NFC) technology (25.4%) for the wireless communication between a mobile and a payment terminal, the magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology (1.2%), and the tokenization technology (15.0%) to prevent the illegal use of data as transmitted.


KIPO held a joint seminar of trademark examiners, trial examiners and judges (News Letter No. 360)


As a revised version of a trial manual (12th edition) has been published, the trial quality is expected to improve (News Letter No. 358)