1. Intellectual Property (IP) systems have newly changed in 2018
- Patent annual fee reduction for small and medium companies will expand from 30% to 50%.
The Korea Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced on January 11, 2018 the ‘newly changing IP systems and supporting policies’ for 2018.
(1) Supporting an early IP right in the industrial revolution-related area
Expansion of the patent preferential examination: To support a company to preoccupy a patent in the 4th industrial revolution areas, seven (7) industrial areas will be included in the subject of preferential examination to shorten the examination period from 16.4 months to the level of 5.4 months (effective in the first half of 2018). The seven (7) industrial areas include AI, IoT, 3D printing, self-driving, big data, cloud, intelligent robot.
Expansion of the design preferential examination: A design application utilizing the 4th industrial revolution technology is included in the subject of preferential examination, to shorten the examination period from 5 months to the level of 2 months (effective in January 2018).
(2) Strengthening IP competitiveness of small and medium companies and venture companies
Expansion of the annual fee reduction: Reduction of patent, utility model and design annual fees of small and medium companies will expand from 30% to 50% and the reduction period applied to the 9th annual fees will expand to the entire period of an IP right (effective in April 2018).
(3) Improving services for people
Patent prior art search results are provided for an applicant as a small or medium company in which it is difficult to search the prior art due to a lack of professional manpower. A trial program to provide such an applicant with a prior art search result before examination is conducted (effective in January 2018).
The procedure to cancel a part of designated goods is simplified. When an applicant wants to give up part of the designated goods when registering a trademark, the applicant may simply describe the purpose of abandoning part of the designated goods in the statement of payment (of the trademark registration fees), without submitting any separate waiver document (effective in January 2018).
2. 20,302 counterfeit products on Chinese online distribution bulletins are kicked out
KIPO deleted 20,302 counterfeit product sale bulletins of Korean companies’ products, which are sold on Chinese online shopping malls.
Compared to about 70 billion Korea Won of 19,621 companies last year, the number of cases increased by 681 (about 3%) and the scale increased by 114.8 billion Korea Won (about 160%).
K-brand counterfeit products, which are distributed on the Chinese online shopping malls, recently changed in progressively various aspects including not only traditional popular product groups, such as beauty, food, fashion, etc., but also manufacturing technology, infringement to components, etc.
This year, KIPO will block counterfeit product distribution and strengthen control activities thereof, in cooperating with the online shopping malls including Alibaba, JD.com (Jingdong.com), etc. To this end, KIPO will strengthen, through collective education, a Korean company’s ability to voluntarily handle the foreign online counterfeit products. KIPO will also expand the countries for counterfeit product monitoring from China to the ASEAN countries including Vietnam, Thailand, etc.
3. New patent classification systems in seven (7) areas including artificial intelligence (AI) will be finished to lead international standardization
According to KIPO, new patent classification systems will be established for the core seven (7) technology areas of the 4th industrial revolution and international standardization to be commonly used in the whole world will be carried forward.
Meanwhile, the preparation for a technology classification system or patent classification system reflecting the innovative features (super-connectivity, super intelligence, fusion and convergence technology) of 4th industrial revolution technology has been urgent to solve the problems in that a patent related to the 4th industrial revolution technology cannot be clearly distinguished by using the previous patent classification system and to establish patent examination standards or IP support policy reflecting the features of the 4th industrial revolution technology.
The new patent classification system for the seven (7) technology areas related to the 4th industrial revolution, which is recently completed by KIPO, is established with respect to the seven (7) technology areas including AI, big data, IoT, etc.. among a total of 31 technology areas related to the 4th industrial revolution, the seven (7) technology areas have been actively discussed to be preferentially supported and promoted in the industrial community and scientific community and have a lot of influence on the other technology development and industrial development.
Based on the new patent classification system, since it is possible to easily understand the technology system of the seven (7) technology areas related to the 4th industrial revolution, it is expected to be very useful in establishing not only the 4th industrial revolution-related patent examination policy but also the industrial policy and scientific technology policy for innovative growth and in distributing sources to government and people.
4. Filing of PCT international patent applications related to a lithium secondary battery is active
According to KIPO, the number of the PCT international patent applications related to the lithium secondary battery, which were worldwide filed during the last ten (10) years, increased from 764 in 2008 to 2,589 in 2017, showing an annual average increase of 14.5%. The whole world market scale of lithium secondary batteries, which was 31.2 billion dollars (about 34 trillion Korea Won) in 2016, is expected to be 67.7 billion dollars (about 74 trillion Korea Won) to expand more than two (2) times, in 2022. This is considered as reflecting the efforts of the companies to acquire the lithium secondary battery-related patents.
As major applicants, Panasonic (1,187 applications, 6.5%), LG Chem (1,104 applications, 6.0%) and Toyota (1,088 applications, 5.9%) held high ranks. By the applicant nationality, Japan (7,986 applications, 43.7%) held a dominant position, followed by US, the Republic of Korea and Germany. China with the electric car industry that has rapidly developed was 5th.
A lithium secondary battery largely comprises a positive electrode material, a negative electrode material, an electrolyte and a separation film/membrane. Based on the application percentage by technology areas, the positive electrode material-related technology is highest with 30.5%, the negative electrode material is 17.2%, the electrolyte is 14.1%, the separation film/membrane is 9.4% and the battery manufacturing technology is 17.4%. Based on the application percentage by Korean companies, the battery manufacturing technology is 27.7%, which is higher than the other countries but the positive electrode material is 25.2% and the negative electrode material is 12.3%, which are lower. The material area, such as a positive electrode material, etc., is a high value added technology which is important in battery output, and therefore, Korean companies need to actively develop the relevant technology and to obtain the relevant patent.