1. The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO; Commissioner: Jung-sik KOH) holds a traveling presentation meeting regarding the changes in the patent system.
Greeting the ‘Month of Invention’ in May, KIPO began the traveling presentation meeting regarding the changes in the patent system. The presentation is to solve common people’s curiosities regarding the patent system and is held by KIPO and the Korea Invention Promotion Association.
The presentation introduces the 2009 changes in the patent system, the tendency in the revision of the international application filing system and guidance in the use of the patent prosecution highway (PPH). Further, the information which is valuable to patent clients, such as the system for requesting a re-examination and the introduction of the common application format, is provided.
A collection of free materials regarding the changes in the patent system is provided to every attendant at the presentation meeting. In addition, the publications related to the patent system, which have been published by KIPO for the last one (1) year, are provided by e-mail.
The presentation meeting is hosted by the working-level staff in charge of establishing/revising the patent system. Therefore, the presentation meeting is expected to be a good opportunity to understand the patent system regarded as being difficult to the general public.
2. The number of Korean patent applications relating to the mobile phone technology filed by foreign companies is rapidly increasing.
The number of Korean patent applications in the field of the mobile phone technology, filed by foreign companies has been rapidly increasing over the recent few years. According to KIPO, the foreign companies filing many Korean applications in the field of the mobile phone technology are Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Qualcomm, among others. Specifically, the number of applications filed by Qualcomm in 2008 is 278, increasing by four times or more, compared with 69 in 2007.
This tendency is understood to check Korean companies having a high share of the mobile phone market in the world.
According to a forecast from KIPO, when the Korean applications, which have been greatly increasingly filed by foreign companies, are patented, the possibility of patent disputes with Korean related companies will be much higher.
“To prepare against the future patent disputes, Korean companies need to operatively link two areas of R&D investment and intellectual property security to each other,” a spokesman of KIPO said.
3. Samsung Electronics and SanDisk extended the patent license agreement for seven (7) years.
Samsung Electronics and SanDisk, a US company, announced that they extended the agreement period for using their own semiconductor patents to each other for seven (7) years.
Samsung Electronics concluded the agreement to supply a certain part of a flash memory output to SanDisk. The contents of the new agreement will be effective from August 14, 2009 at which time the existing agreement terminates.
According to a spokesman at Samsung Electronics, the new agreement includes the patents of the two companies applied to the MLC NAND and the flash storage system, except for the 3D memory technology. The royalty proportion is told as about a half of the proportion applied to the existing agreement.
“Through this agreement, the two companies can devote all their energies to recovery of the flash market… We think it is beneficial to strengthen the transaction relation between the two companies and to conclude a balanced patent agreement,” said Oh-hyun KWON, a president of Samsung Electronics.
The spokesman of Samsung Electronics also reported that Eli HARARI, a CEO of SanDisk, said that they have an important opportunity in the mobile, computing and consumer flash storage markets and they hoped to continue the constructive relation with Samsung Electronics.
Concerning whether to take over SanDisk, Samsung Electronics added that there was no change in the standpoint announced when they withdrew the previous proposal to take it over.
4. If a trademark similar to a previous invalid trademark shall be invalid, it is unconstitutional.
The provision of the Trademark Law stipulates that a later registered trademark similar to a previously registered trademark which is judged as being invalid shall be invalid. However, according to the decision made by the Constitutional Court, the provision of the Trademark Law is unconstitutional.
According to the announcement of the Full Bench [forming of nine (9) judges] of the Constitutional Court, a company called “J” , which manufactures electric beds/blankets, filed a constitutional appeal against a part of Article 7 (3) of the Trademark Law, and they made the decision that the constitutional appeal was unconstitutional by 8 (unconstitutional) to 1 (constitutional).
“J” registered the trademark “A” in 1987. About ten (10) years later, a person called “PARK” registered the trademark “A?Y” in 1998. Unknowing the registration of the trademark “A?Y” by “PARK”, “J” registered the trademark “A?Z” in 2001. Then, “J” was aware of the existence of “A?Y” and filed a trial for invalidation against the trademark “A?Y” registered by “PARK”. As the result, the trademark “A?Y” by “PARK was invalidated in 2004.
In this situation, indicating that the trademark “A?Z” registered by “J” is similar to the already invalidated trademark “A?Y”, a third person “LEE” filed a trial for invalidation against the trademark of “J” in 2006. As the result, as the trademark “A?Z” was invalidated, “J” filed the constitutional appeal.
According to the decision made by the Full Bench, since the similar trademark (A?Z) already co-existed when the decision to invalidate the previously registered trademark (A?Y) was made, even if the later registered trademark (A?Z) were invalidated, such decision to invalidate the later registered trademark (A?Z) admits of no contribution to the legislation purpose to prevent a consumer from misunderstanding or being confused of the trademark.
Further, “the partial provision of Article 7(3) of the Trademark Law stipulating that ‘when an early registered trademark is decided as being invalid, a later registered trademark similar to the early registered trademark shall be invalidated’, infringes freedom to operate business by using the trademark right as a property right and the trademark, without any reasonable reasons” and “this causes a confusion in the entire system of the Trademark Law,” added a spokesman for the Full Bench.